Gunner says fresh talks about gallery at Anzac Hill precinct



UPDATED 25 February 2020, 9.26am. See at bottom.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the government is again negotiating with the Alice Springs Town Council about putting the proposed national Aboriginal art gallery on the Anzac Hill Precinct site.

Mr Gunner in his statement made no mention of traditional owners, who have ruled out the site, when he answered questions from the Independent Member of Araluen, Robyn Lambley.
The council has said it will agree to the site only if traditional owners give consent.
Member for Braitling, Minister Dale Wakefield has described the opposition by traditional owners as the sticking point.
“We have made it clear that there is a good location which will deliver on every measure that matters,” Mr Gunner said to Ms Lambley.
“We are in negotiations with the council about the Anzac Hill Precinct site. That is significant progress.”
He says the council “has returned to that site — I am confused how often the council changed their position on various sites.
“We have been consistent about where we want to go. They are now back at that table saying, ‘we get it and we understand why that is the right position and we are prepared to talk about that spot’.
“An investment in that spot will trigger other investments in the town which is critical.
“We are working at their pace now with those negotiations and we will see where we go from there.
“[The gallery] will help drive significant tourism to the centre. This is how you guarantee those flights at the right prices to The Centre. We have seen what happens at Yulara when it is a destination. We want to make Alice Springs a destination. This will do that.
“What a fantastic spot to do it in.”
The government has recently demolished the Anzac Hill high school on that location, against strong opposition from locals.
UPDATE 11.10am

Prominent traditional owner Doris Stuart says the government has not been in touch with her, nor with her sons, nor with any other traditional owners, so far as she knows.


Her opposition to the use of the Anzac Hill precinct for the gallery remains unchanged, she says.


“The government is disrespectful. Our stories are imprinted on the ground, the hills, the trees.


“Why should we allow other people’s stories to be in conflict with ours?” asks Ms Stuart.


Meanwhile Cr Eli Melky, a sometime mediator between the council and Aboriginal interests, says the condition of the Town Council for giving its green light for the site is “evidence” of consent from the traditional owners.


“No such evidence has been provided,” Cr Melky said this morning.


UPDATE 25 February 2020, 9.26am


At last night’s Ordinary Meeting of the Town Council, Cr Melky asked CEO Robert Jennings to report to the chamber what he could about the government’s negotiations with traditional owners.


Mr Jennings had told councillors, in his monthly report, that “a number of positive meetings have now been held” with Cliff Weeks, a senior public servant in the Department of the Chief Minister, “regarding the potential land offered by Council for the NAAG”.


Here he is referring to the Wills Terrace carpark, which may not seem to be terribly prospective, but notional designs (at right) Mr Jennings commissioned, presented to council and government in December, showed how the carpark block could possibly mesh in with the site of the former Anzac Hill High, leaving Anzac Oval in the middle to its existing uses.


At the time Minister Dale Wakefield made clear that the government still sees Anzac Oval as essential to the project.


The sticking point for council, however, as Cr Melky pointed out, is that their support for the Anzac Hill precinct site is conditional on traditional owner support.


This is expressly written into council’s resolution on the matter, which requires the government to present evidence of that support.


Mr Jennings acknowledged that this is very clear in the agreement between council and government but said it is “a bit too early to say” whether such evidence is forthcoming.


When Cr Melky pressed for more,  Mr Jennings said, “I wish I could tell you more, there’s nothing to tell.”


Elected Members will be updated on progress at the March council forum (closed to the public).

UPDATED 25 February 2020, 9.26am


  1. Hi Erwin, Thank you for this write up. Instead of zoning in on this contentious space, have other sites been suggested as appropriate by the Law Men and Women who take care of the sacred sites?

  2. It is very pathetic how people claiming to be Central Arrernte identify as Mbantuarinja.
    Mbantua means meeting place to ceremony visitors.
    Everyone belonging to a ceremony that travels across different clans and tribes by way of songline is referred to as Mbantuarinja.
    If you refer to yourself as Mbantuarinja it means you are not on your direct ancestors’ country but you visit the place referred to as Mbantua as a part of ceremony. Native Title was put over Alice Springs by ceremony visitors.
    To be able to call yourself Mbantuarinja means that you have ceremony to connect.
    Who holds the Ceremonies for Central Arrernte? I can tell you right now Mbantuarinja are visitors who should have ceremony.
    So who are the ceremony holders and where is your proof?
    It’s shit like this that people trying to be our leaders don’t address that is pretty disgusting.
    Everything has turned to shit and it seems all those people who are collecting royalties as Central Arrernte are all a bunch of money hungry [people] in bed with the corporations illegally trading with them.
    In whose law are you allowed to speak for what does not belong to you?
    How does an Anmatyere mother and Luritja father equal Central Arrernte?

  3. “Didn’t ask me or my sons.”
    “Luritja, Anmatyerre.”
    Jeez, no wonder the Arrente tribe is dysfunctional. Especially when you get urbans commenting on stuff both know nothing about!

  4. It is starting to look like the Council either wittingly or unwittingly have allowed themselves to be manipulated by the govt…all the NT govt has to do is to find someone claiming to be a TO to give “consent” and the Council fall into line…where in the motion passed by Council does it clarify that the only TOs that count are those that very clearly and emphatically said NO to Anzac Hill?

  5. Nicole.
    Mparntwe does not mean ‘meeting place for ceremony visitors’, lol.
    Where does your patriline take you? Why are you speaking about the Peltharre/Kngwarraye anyenhenge of Mparntwe? Don’t you guys come from Penangke/Pengarte ancestors of Ntulye? Which Peltharre/Kngwarraye ancestors do you descend from? There is a reason the Stevens family are apmere-ke artweye, they have an unbroken patriline (no European ancestry) to the Peltharre/Kngwarraye ancestors who inhabited Alice Springs, well before Europeans arrived. Utnerrengatye-ke artweye, Akngwelye-ke artweye.

  6. @ Mick O’Neill: My thoughts were they fenced the site off to protect further damage to the trees and reduce loitering.
    Having said that, I walked past the other day and saw holes in the fence and evidence of litter still.
    The owner of that site also owns another neighbouring property. Perhaps they are land banking.
    However I doubt that the gallery will be or should be built there. I’d prefer to see other land uses there, not a gallery.
    Put the gallery south of The Gap and keep the extra traffic away from town. New businesses will still invest on both sides of The Gap as most of the tourist accommodation establishments are on the north side of The Gap.

  7. The megafauna exhibition was supposed to attract business to that end of the mall but it does not seem to be doing that.
    Watching people emerge from the mall heading in that direction it appears that most head towards the post office.
    I doubt that any other facility in that direction will improve that as people do not like to re trace their steps and revisit things that they have visited to get there.
    This appears to be the case also with Ross River. Who enjoys the long drive back as much as the drive out? The removal of two major banks at that end of the mall must be telling us something surely, along the same lines.
    The obvious place in line with the wishes of the TOs is in conjunction with Yirara College where the students could be involved in both the display of their own cultures and also the management skills needed to perpetuate it, as well as displaying the positive aspects of Indigenous education. Is there some other aspect not being shown in public – real estate values perhaps, involving non related entities?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here