COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
Arts Minister Chansey Paech is adamant that Lhere Artepe is the appropriate body to consult about the Aboriginal art gallery’s location despite utterly credible anecdotal evidence that a large number of traditional owners, including the majority in an exit poll at the apparent AGM, say it should be built south of The Gap.
The native title organisation has been almost continuously in a state of internal strife since its incorporation in 2002. The Alice Springs News has given extensive coverage to the issues (google this site).
They were raised again at a meeting intended to be the AGM but – according to people who attended – degenerated into a shambles even featuring a physical fight.
A prominent family has commented on the ongoing dysfunction of the organisation.
The most recent reports provided to the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) are dealing with periods ending June 30 last year.
The members listed are the Antulye, Irlpme and Mparntwe Aboriginal Corporations, as well as Alan Campbell, Fabian Conway, Marie Ellis, Felicity Hayes, Peter Liddle, William Liddle, Shane Lindner, Pater Palmer and Graham Smith.
A corporation extract produced today states Mr Lindner was appointed on May 6, 2017 and says “this director will hold office for up to 2 year(s)”.
According to this he should be no longer a director although he was regarded as the chairman of the corporation at the time of the scheduled AGM on March 15.
The ORIC website list of correspondence shows several items giving extensions to holding AGMs and providing Reporting Requirements Outcome Letters.
The current acting CEO, Graeme Smith, is capriciously selective about his answers to the News.
No minutes of the AGM have been supplied to ORIC (they don’t have to be) and Mr Smith – presumably still in the position – is not responding to our questions about the AGM’s decisions.
The NT Government has recently done a $20m deal with Lhere Artepe.
The question must be asked: Is it responsible for the government to wager taxpayers’ money – $50m to begin with – on advice provided under these circumstances?
Minister Paech says: “Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation, as the legally recognised representative organisation of the Arrernte people of the Mparntwe, Antulye and Irlpme estates, has indicated its support for the National Aboriginal Art Gallery being located at the Anzac Hill precinct.”
To unite these three estates in one organisation is a much criticised decision of the Federal Court which declared the survival of native title in areas in and around Alice Springs.
Mr Paech also says: “An Authority Certificate over the Anzac Hill Precinct, by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) has been issued, which includes the old Anzac Hill High School site and Anzac Oval. This means development can go ahead subject to sacred sites in the area being protected and honoured in accordance with the conditions set as part of the sacred site survey process.
“The Authority Certificate identifies both registered and recorded sacred sites that must be protected, and how they must be protected throughout the entire construction and development phase and into the future of the Gallery. AAPA consulted widely with Aboriginal custodians of sacred sites before issuing the Authority Certificate.
“Arrernte Traditional Owners will of course always be afforded the opportunity to be a part of the consultation and engagement process for the design, construction and operations of the NAAG (National Aboriginal Art Gallery) moving forward.”
He says: “Aboriginal people need to be front and centre within our community” and it’s important that they and the Gallery are “not on the periphery of our community” but in its the centre.
“The Northern Territory Government’s focus is on delivering the NAAG project, which will be a world-class facility that will attract national and international visitors to Alice Springs.
“It will provide opportunities for local jobs for Aboriginal people with careers in creative industries such as Aboriginal curators and artistic directors; Indigenous business opportunities; and economic growth for the Central Australian region.
“The Gallery will attract more people, more flights and more life into the Central Australian community and will provide wide-ranging social benefits which are delivered through having increased visitor presence our restaurants and retailers in the CBD.
“The matter of compulsory acquisition of the Anzac Oval [from the Town Council] is ongoing. The Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, Eva Lawler, has referred this objection to the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) as required under the Act.
“NTCAT will provide a report on its review to the Minister later this year. Following this, the Minister will make a decision about the proposed acquisition.”
Related reading includes Mparntwe custodians: Lhere Artepe does not speak for us.
PHOTO (Google Earth): 1 The government’s preferred location at the bottom of Anzac Hill • 2 Desert Park, the choice of the initial report commissioned by the government • 3 Desert Knowledge precinct, preferred by the promoters of the National Indigenous Culture Centre • 4 About a square kilometre of land with 360 degree views owned by businessman Ron Sterry. Both 3 and 4 are south of The Gap.