Sunday, May 26, 2024

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HomeIssue 24Art gallery row: Town Council leaderless

Art gallery row: Town Council leaderless



Tonight’s Town Council discussion of  the art gallery issue, which is crucial to Alice Springs, will not have any input from Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson (at left), and the position of Mayor Damien Ryan is unclear.


The mayor absented himself from the recent special meeting about the gallery and the government’s intention to compulsorily acquire the oval. At the meeting, where councillors determined they would oppose the acquisition,  he was noted only as an apology. When the Alice Springs News asked him why he had not attended, he did not give a reason.


Cr Paterson is a candidate for the Territory Alliance in the August Legislative Assembly election, and Mayor Ryan is standing for the CLP.

In a media release last night Cr paterson declared a perceived conflict of interest on the gallery issue “due to Minister Wakefield’s accusation of [Council] Members ‘politicking their decision’.”

We asked Cr Paterson: “On the grounds that you are unable to represent you constituents on a matter of extreme importance to them, are you going to resign as a councillor immediately?”


He replied: “The integrity of myself and my eight colleagues on council has been questioned from the Minister, which is an unfair assertion. Therefore I have removed myself from the discussion so the community will have confidence in the process. I will remain Deputy Mayor and serve the community until the General Election.”

He made no mention of it, but his decision calls into question the mayor’s position, which to all intents and purposes is identical.

As the next council election – next year – is now within less than 18 months, the council has the power to appoint someone as a councillor if a vacancy occurs.

Cr Paterson and Mayor Ryan (at right) could create that opportunity by resigning.

In his media release Cr Paterson said: “I have taken on board the advice given to Council on Conflicts of Interests over the past 6 months and as a candidate in the upcoming Territory Election, I am acutely aware of the perception of, and actual, conflicts of interest.

“When it comes to the battle between the NT Government and the Alice Springs Town Council over the repurposing of Anzac Oval as the site for the NAAG, I believe I have a perceived conflict of interest due to Minister Wakefield’s accusation of Members ‘politicking their decision’.


“The last thing I want to do is have the Government attack the integrity of a council process. For this reason, I will remove myself from all deliberations and decisions on this issue until after the NT General Election on August 22,” said Cr Paterson.


“Territory Alliance is of the view that the Anzac Oval Precinct is not the best site for the Gallery. We consider that any move to use Anzac Oval as the site for the NAAG must come with funding and a solid plan for an alternative site for Rugby League. Without this funding commitment from Government, any deal around the use of Anzac Oval is incomplete.


“In the current economic and fiscal crisis, the timing is not right to bulldoze $5m of infrastructure built on Anzac Oval just five years ago.


“We are also aware that Anzac Oval is culturally and historically significant to the town. Many residents are strongly against the Oval being repurposed for the gallery. We question whether the destruction, waste and anguish caused by repurposing Anzac Oval for the Gallery is really worth it, particularly when there are other suitable, less controversial sites” said Cr Paterson.


“Territory Alliance is actively exploring the suitability and feasibility of other sites for the Gallery. Territory Alliance has committed to locking in a site within the first 100 days of coming to Government.”

Council tonight is set to take a vote on its Conflict Management Policy. It could not come at a more pertinent time.


  1. Why do you call our town council members leaderless, Erwin? Just because they don’t support the dictator styled NT State Labor Party government that won’t take no for an answer despite all the petitions signed against it being placed there?
    Why is the idiot Labor Party government still trying to forcibly steal our Alice Springs community’s favourite town and community people’s meeting / greeting and entertainment sacred site?
    The last thing our town needs is another art gallery. We especially do not need one placed so close to a major drinking den, right across the road.

  2. @ Matthew Langan: If you think the NT Labor Party are dictators consider the antics of the CLP.
    They sold TIO, our iconic, profitable and very supportive insurance company.
    Then they wasted the money and TIO downsized throwing hundreds out of work.
    Insurance premiums went through the roof.
    We actually do need the gallery, it will attract high end international tourists when they can visit again.
    They stay at our best hotels eat expensive meals and spend lots of cash in our town.
    Aboriginal artists need the gallery too, it will turbo charge the income of the best artists.
    And the gallery does need to be located very close to the CBD, visitors will not bus out to a distant location time and time again.
    Dare I say it.
    Well done Dale Wakefield!
    And the council is leaderless.

  3. Alice needs this gallery and a decision where it should be located has been going on far too long.
    If council do not wish for it to be built on the oval, where in the CBD do they want it to be located? They have no idea!
    They can’t just keep saying no and give no suggestions. Now more than ever we need to make a decision quickly and start the building process.
    Far too many local business are close to closing and struggling to survive.
    The gallery would be a great boost for local construction and supply industries in the short term and a massive tourist attraction in the long term.
    It is time to come together and make a decision for the best of Alice Springs and the community. Rather than bickering and trying to score political points which has been the case for the last three years.

  4. Why destroy the great facility of Anzac Oval? It’s working pretty well isn’t it? Is it not a bit silly and excessive to smash something that is doing such a good service as we breathe and then build a new one?
    Got a BIG BAG of MONEY, have ya? Nothing else you could think of spending it on in the community? How about building the gallery on a new or secondhand site and keep the Anzac Oval’s site doing what it is doing so well? Have them both. This problem can be solved. The huge loss in smash and remove, the re-building one facility and the building of another seems like it is not that well thought out on a practical and economic level?


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