Oval for gallery: Custodians unanimously opposed, says NTCAT



The Mparntwe custodians are unanimously opposed to the acquisition of ANZAC Oval for the Aboriginal art gallery (NAAG) and the NT Government should go back for more talks.

“Consultations by the Northern Territory Government have not, to date, been adequate,” was the recommendation released this afternoon by the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT), after a government request for advice.

The Town Council says it “acknowledges and accepts the ruling” of NTCAT: “Council is pleased NTCAT have listened to our evidence and deemed the community consultation between the Northern Territory Government and Traditional Owners as insufficient.

“Council now encourages the Minister to acknowledge today’s ruling and seek more appropriate and genuine consultation with Traditional Owners and Council.”

Says NTCAT: “However, although we have upheld that part of the Council’s objection, we do not consider it a sufficient reason for us to recommend against the acquisition [of the oval] proceeding.

“We do, however, think it is very important that the people with the strongest traditional connection to the land (wherever it is) that is ultimately to host the NAAG be given a significant voice in decisions affecting its conception, development and operation.

“The NAAG will, after all, be a celebration of the artistic expression of the traditional connections between indigenous Australians and their lands.

“We have therefore made a recommendation that the Minister consider undertaking further negotiations with the Mparntwe custodians before making a final decision whether to acquire Anzac Oval.

“We have also recommended that the Minister consider whether protections already in place for sacred sites on the proposed NAAG site are adequate.”

The 47 page statement is signed by NTCAT president Richard Bruxner and Member Andrew Macrides.

UPDATE September 22, 1pm:

After five long years of mismanagement by the Gunner Government it seems we are still in the consultation phase for this major, game – changing project for Alice Springs,” says the Independent Member for Araluen, Robyn Lambley.

“This has been the greatest debacle , the greatest stuff up of all time by the Gunner Government.

“Minister Lawler has been sent off with her tail between her legs to consult with the people who should have been properly consulted with from the start.”

Ms Lambley says she has no doubt that the government will “arrogantly pursue their preferred site of Anzac Oval.

“I have no doubt this battle is far from over. Thanks to the ineptitude of the Gunner Government this wonderful project may never be fully realised as the grand and national iconic National Aboriginal Art Gallery it was intended.”

The Government has 12 days to respond to this NTCAT determination.


  1. So NT Government still acquire ANZAC, and simply further and deepen their consultation with relevant parties.
    Get it done.

  2. If the custodians’ continual unequivocal opposition to the art centre being north of The Gap is not “… sufficient reason for us to recommend against the acquisition” we’ll end up with a cultural centre that is culturally inappropriate and not supported by the people it’s supposed to be celebrating. Shame job.

  3. If the Gunner Labor Government continues to push for a site TOs have made clear is not culturally appropriate, then they are just continuing the shameful history of exploiting Aboriginal labour (in this case artists) for what suits government.

  4. What does “not culturally inappropriate” mean?
    The Alice is flooded with art works from all over the NT without a hint of complaint.
    The oval is not a sacred site.
    When a people with a history of suffering oppression are finally given a voice they will exercise their influence to maximum effect.
    That is very understandable but the outcome in this case is that our town will likely miss out on a transformative development or it will be delayed for years.
    Aboriginal artists throughout the Territory along with businesses in town will be the losers.
    The Aboriginal voice has been heard and that is welcome.
    But on this occasion, the custodian’s opposition should be politely overridden.

  5. Jon, it is not the custodians’ position that is blocking the gallery, it’s the government’s insistence on only one possible site.
    If, as they like to spout, it will bring thousands of tourists the tourists will come regardless of where it is built.

  6. Putting the art gallery on the oval is a stupid answer. Crime is only going to balloon.
    Why? The oval has to be relocated to land near Hidden Valley camp. Kids will make this their new hang out spot. The oval will get trashed. You can say all you like that it won’t happen but I guarantee what I am saying will cause head aches for the police.
    Some tourists don’t even like to come into town because of the petty crime.
    Not only that but traffic in town will grow. There is already a shortfall of car parks.
    Government workers park every where. Ask many businesses around town.
    They will tell you their complaints of public parking being used by full day workers instead of short time shoppers.
    If the Anzac oval is turned into the art gallery it will also get flooded for sure. I think it was in the late 80s and again late 90s when the oval was completely under water.
    Why not put the gallery south of The Gap in a more scenic location where parking won’t be an issue as there will be plenty of space. Build on land outside of a flood zone.

  7. Why destroy an oval then build a new one, lots of vacant flood free land opposite the university sports grounds with ample parking …

  8. The government’s reasoning has been the same since day dot. It has to be ANZAC oval to increase foot traffic through to Todd Mall.
    Its not the fact that the other venues are too far away, but the original plan and commitment was to bring life to the mall.
    I have always said the Desert Knowledge precinct would be ideal. Plenty of parking, plenty of room, easily signposted, and less than 1km from Yirara College with young adults to staff it, less than 1km away.
    But the government is so blinkered they will not even consider the alternative, “my way or the highway” (apparently not).
    Of course the tourists will then flood the mall to buy paintings from the galleries there (the art gallery site can’t sell paintings, remember).
    So a win win, except for Gunner who can’t be told anything, unless it’s his mates and there is some money behind it.


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