New salvo against Gunner, Paech over art centre site

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Aboriginal businessman OWEN COLE vigorously attacked Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Central Australian front bencher Chansey Paech over their choice of the Anzac precinct as the site for the proposed Aboriginal art centre.

In a talk to the Rotary Club of Alice Springs on December 8 Mr Cole, who had been working closely with his life-time friend and respected Arrernte leader, Harold Furber who sadly passed away this month, said the only location that should be considered is the Desert Knowledge Precinct south of The Gap.

Sites north of The Gap, at either the Desert Park or Anzac Hill are not in line with custodians’ wishes, Mr Cole said:-

The government’s preference is Anzac Oval to prop up businesses in the northern Todd Street Mall which should not determine the location.

South of The Gap – preferably the Desert Knowledge Precinct – should be the location, for commercial as well as cultural reasons, as this historically was where other tribal groups gathered before being welcomed by Arrernte leaders into Mbantua.

This principle determined the location of the 2001 Yeperenye Federation Festival, managed by CAAMA, on Blatherskite Part, south of The Gap.

The cultural festival attracted 30,000 people and 1500 performers from outside Alice Springs. 300 school children created a giant caterpillar, illuminated by candles carried inside transparent sections, representing the bodies of the caterpillars, some hundreds of metres long. They told the story of the Yeperenye Caterpillar.

That was the start of the connection in the public’s eye between Aboriginal traditions and where and how cultural stories should be performed.

When the NT Government became involved they decided as “the experts” to split art and culture centre, leaving the latter with the people who organised the Yeperenye cultural festival and taking care themselves of the art gallery centre.

The NTG had no right to pinch the art gallery component nor had the expertise to set up and manage the gallery.

The next shock was when the  NTG decided Anzac Oval should be the location for the art gallery which was in direct conflict with the government’s own expert panel which favoured Desert Park. The expert panel resigned and criticised the NT Government for the Anzac Oval decision.

The push by Mbantua custodians and the majority of Alice Springs residents who opposed Anzac Oval for the gallery became stronger. Arts Minister Lauren Moss formally acknowledged custodians call for the gallery to be located south of The Gap but was shunted sideways.

Front bencher Dale Wakefield lost her Braitling seat over escalating anti-social problems combined with her being the main driver of the compulsory acquisition of Anzac Oval.

Mr Owen said Minister Chansey Paech initially informed him he would take over the project and relocate the gallery on the Desert Knowledge precinct as it faced too much community and custodian opposition.

But the party apparatus lead by Chief Minister Gunner came down on him and Chansey instead championed the acquisition of Anzac Oval for the national gallery.

We alongside the custodians opposed Anzac Oval from day one.

Despite being very ill, Harold dragged himself all over the country to promote the site south of The Gap. Speaking to hundreds of people even as his health deteriorated, including climbing the side of Anzac Hill so national media could take photos in support of oppositional stories that had now become national.

Politicians and bureaucrats have no part in making cultural decisions. This is a lesson we learned overseas including in Albuquerque at the Puebla Cultural Centre and elsewhere.

Demolishing the Anzac Oval infrastructure and the historic high school are financially irresponsible acts. Moving the oval and building a new stadium at great cost (estimated $30m) at the base of the ranges opposite Francis Street would bathe these homes in more reflected light and amplified noise compared to Albrecht Oval.

Ignoring cultural protocols and realities cannot be justified. It is a cruel policy.

Chansey Paech, an Arrernte person himself, “should know better,” and we will continue to put pressure on him.

The NT Government is obliged to list to Aboriginal decisions. The Native Title Act requires that custodians must be listened to.

Lhere Artepe, which supports the Government, is required to seek custodians’ consent but has not obtained it.

Instead it is opposing custodians by doing underhanded deals with the NT Government which should be investigated by the independent Commission Against Corruption, ICAC. We will push for an ICAC investigation.

There may also be a case for the United Nations to become involved as the government’s dealings contravene the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights.

Mr Cole said he has no time for Mr Gunner who is driving the Anzac Oval agenda: “He is acting against the foundation principles of Labor.”

 

Last updated 7 January 2022

31 COMMENTS

  1. Very well said Owen!
    Paech and Gunner have no answer, and will try to ignore and/or obfuscate.
    Their stubborn stupidity is costing Territorians millions.
    Can we just imagine it?
    A National ABORIGINAL Art Gallery built with complete disregard for the ABORIGINAL people of Central Australia?
    Shame, shame, shame!

  2. Congratulations to Owen Cole for spelling it out in language that surely the entire population of Alice Springs can understand.
    The Yeperenye festival was the absolute pinnacle of cultural expression in the recent history of this region, an achievement that sadly did not pave the way for repeat performances.
    Instead, as the NT Government and tourism interests have sought absolute control bypassing Arrernte custodians at every turn, our cultural events have been diminished over the past 20 years. I agree absolutely with Charlie Carter.

  3. In the settlement, or invasion, of this country, the unjust laws white men made went unchallenged until recent times.
    The Mabo Decision reinforced the value of evidence-based, reasonable decision making over arbitrary and self serving laws.
    Mr Cole is now declaring that a cultural decision cannot be challenged. If custodians want the art gallery south of the Gap that’s where it must be positioned.
    After hearing Mr Cole’s bellicose tirade it seems impertinent to query his position.
    But just as the white man’s laws were ultimately challenged by reason questions must be asked.
    My limited understanding (which may well be flawed) is that in precolonial times the Gap was a sacred entrance to Mbantua.
    Outsiders were required to pay homage and respect before being allowed entry. Women were not allowed to pass through the Gap, on pain of death.
    Fast forward to 2022 and the hurly burly of connected Alice Springs, a tourist Mecca, and this resurrection of the south of the Gap for outsiders tradition seems absurd.
    Custodians who themselves probably breach the old traditions on a regular basis are demanding that a particular tradition determine where the art gallery will be located.
    I for one do not agree.

  4. I recall the kerfuffle when other heritage sites such as the Old Hartley Street School and other locations were threatened with demolition in the late 90s. The only reason this desecration was prevented was by the efforts of the town folk.
    Territory Labor would have picked up votes on that issue, not that they worked for it or deserved it, for they now show their true colours regarding their disrespect of ‘heritage’ – Aboriginal or otherwise.

  5. @ Red: Aboriginal sacred sites are protected by law and had the Anzac Oval been claimed as a sacred site I would fully support the custodians’ rejection of the site.
    But the Oval is not a sacred site and the argument against it by town custodians is absurd.
    Where were the custodians when our town was over run by outsiders from remote communities and the crime rates soared?
    But suddenly they fall back on an old tradition long since disregarded without protest by themselves?
    There is no continuity of tradition with respect to non sacred sites.
    Continuity of tradition is of outmost importance in matters of Aboriginal land claims.
    Throw that out the window and any future use of any land could be rejected as against the wishes of Aboriginal people.
    The Territory Government has made a sensible decision based on economics and it should stand.

  6. Jon: A number of points.
    Sites are not “claimed”, nor does their formal recognition by whitefella law cover everything.
    Anzac Hill was proclaimed an “Anzac reserve” in 1934 despite being recognised as an important women’s site by Olive Pink, and many others.
    The “area of influence” of a site obviously depends on what is proposed.
    Running a road past an important site may be permissible, while digging a big mine hole would not.
    “Continuity of tradition” is not what is measured by whitefella law.
    The custodians would not have had any say in the construction of the high school, or the oval.
    “The NTG has made a sensible decision based on economics?” I have not seen one iota of evidence for this.

  7. @ Jon: I totally respect your opinion and the reasoning behind it. But not all sites have to be ‘sacred’ for people wishing to either protect or utilize them for their original purpose.
    The oval is and always was a town asset; it is for the whole community.
    Territory Labor’s misreading of the situation is a concern to many. Firstly, there IS the issue that “south of the town’ does have meaning for many Aboriginal people and that a few do consider Anzac oval as important or sacred.
    Either way, sacred, non-sacred, important, in use – this is a divisive issue.
    In tourism speak, Owen Cole is right in his idea for the location of a new tourist attraction, because the gallery must be seen by tourists coming or going from the town.
    There should be plenty of room for large caravans and motorhomes to park as well I imagine.

  8. @ Charlie Carter: As you know, sacred sites are places that have a special meaning or significance under Aboriginal tradition, mainly concerned with the activities of ancestral beings, collectively known as “Dreamings”. Aboriginal sacred sites are protected under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Land Rights Act) and the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act (Sacred Sites Act) 1989.
    As far as I am aware no special meaning has been attached to the Anzac Oval, there is no claim by Custodians that the Oval is a sacred site.
    Custodians should not have a veto over the Oval.
    Continuity of tradition is not what is measured by white fella law?
    Well it is actually.
    Land claims succeed or fail on the question of ongoing continuity of connection (traditions) of claimants with the land (Native Title Act 1993).
    There is no continuous tradition of outsiders staying on the other side of the Gap and using this long discarded practice to force the Gallery out of the CBD is absurd and unreasonable.
    Red: I agree that sites don’t have to be sacred for people to want to protect them or decide how they will be used.
    Objections to the use of the Oval are legitimate on these grounds but whether they win out over economic arguments around tourist access and support for town businesses need to be carefully weighed.

  9. @ Jon: I will leave Owen Cole and others to continue with comments re the sacredness of various locations.
    There are many who believe that the location south of the Gap would benefit the town most due to it’s location – it HAS to be noticed when either entering or leaving the town.
    The Anzac Oval site does not have this advantage, nor will it have the parking capacity (or ease of parking) for the numbers of large caravans and motorhomes anticipated during peak season.
    The benefit, should Anzac Oval go ahead, is rather limited to the businesses in that location, mainly the Alice Plaza.
    However, there is more to Alice that just these businesses and it perhaps it might be fairer if all had an opportunity to benefit.
    As a caravan owner I am rather interested in what my fellow travellers think of the parking Anzac v South of Gap, so I asked some of them.
    Four out of four motorhome / caravan owners feel that a large purpose built location would win over a town situation.
    One person pointed out that fitting in both the Transport Hall of Fame and the Aboriginal Art Centre (south of The Gap) in one day would be a good thing. So perhaps both of these attractions located together might benefit the town.

  10. @ Red: To be blunt, Mr Cole’s attempt to veto a CBD location for the Gallery on cultural grounds has no substance, in my opinion, but if I’m wrong let’s hear from him.
    The Oval is a large area that will site the Gallery along with ample parking.
    It will be a bee hive of visitor activity that will bring economic benefits to the whole town and remote communities where much of our art comes from.
    On economic grounds it is clearly the best location and keep in mind that another decentralised attraction, the Desert Park, has never turned a profit.

  11. In response to Jon: I hardly know where to begin! Fortunately, a very long line of custodians for this place have never been limited by very recent legalistic and bureaucratic definitions of what constitutes a sacred site and what activities are appropriate where and when.
    Just ask tough talking Hon Mal Brough MP, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs between 28 January 2006 and 3 December 2007 about his plans – custodians sent him packing!
    Sacred sites legislation in the NT dates from 1976 and provides protection for some but not all sites. It has been dogged by various shortcomings, including physical management, definitions, topography (mostly crudely surveyed boundaries that tightly minimise the land to be protected) and flawed processes that often exclude the right people in favour of those who are more willing to sign off on development schemes.
    Ask yourself how much of Mparntwe is covered by development of every description and how little is protected effectively? Even the management of Anzac oval has killed off and compromised sacred trees that are registered and supposedly protected. But nothing could save them from the nearby watering and fertilising regimes of the oval. Consequently the important corkwood trees flanking the oval from river to hill are a shadow of what they should be.
    It seems officialdom is content with trite ‘welcome to country’ and ‘acknowledgement of apmereke-artweye’ mentions but in practice, the protection of sacred sites remains an embarrassment. Custodians are disrespected by malleable governments in favour of big business every day. Of course, Mparntwe authority and traditional protocols must be supported if this project is to have any credibility with locals or for that matter, increasingly astute visitors from the outside world. I wonder how the communities of the western desert would feel about a Central Arrernte art and culture centre built over the song-lines of their country against their wishes? I feel an essay coming on so I’ll leave it there.

  12. @ Mike Gillam: Not long ago, respected Arrernte Custodian Benedict Stevens told us that to have the Gallery at the Anzac Oval “would make it safe not only for Arrernte men but also for women and children.”
    He added that south of the Gap is unsafe. “It would be culturally very problematic.”
    Mr Stevens then came under pressure and reversed his position but it seems obvious that there is no cultural obstacle to the Oval.
    Perhaps, as you say, sacred sites legislation is flawed and fails to protect everything it should.
    But I can find no record of any Arrernte person claiming that the Oval has been overlooked.
    The argument made against the Oval location draws on the long redundant tradition of outsiders to Mparntwe waiting south of the Gap before being allowed entry.
    As I have previously stated, using this to exclude the gallery from the CBD is absurd and unreasonable, in my opinion.
    I note you draw a parallel with how western desert communities would feel about a Central Arrernte art and culture centre built over the song lines of their country against their wishes.
    But the National Gallery is not such a centre.
    It is for all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, not just Arrernte.
    As Mr Stevens so eloquently said “this (gallery) is for all of us, for our white people as well as our black people, we all have an interest in this town”.
    As such, this hugely expensive and transformative project should not be hijacked by any one interest group and especially not for nonsensical reasons.
    The NT Government has produced an impressive business case based on the Oval location.
    The case against that location has not been made.

  13. Why destroy a beautiful oval? Lots of parking next to sports grounds already built-and accessible sealed road during flooding-build it on unused ground opposite University?

  14. Jon@ You’re certainly in lock step with the NTG – maybe they’ll offer you a marketing consultancy? Does the impressive business case include bulldozing a refurbish-able asset at Anzac and sporting facilities (say, conservatively, $20m) and before the gallery is even opened, investing in new infrastructure to accommodate rugby codes to the tune of $30m. Expect budget over-runs!
    The cultural issues are nuanced and so there are opportunities for people to cherry pick statements such as the article quoting Mr Stevens. I’m sure you can imagine the ways in which custodians are misled, coerced, wedged, isolated, divided and undermined by those in power. And when they do meet and make a decision you attempt to discredit custodians exercising their cultural authority as “any one interest group …” why don’t you mention those commercial interests behind the scenes who are clearly pulling strings in Government? In a subsequent article Mr Stevens also said he felt pressured.
    Editor: Can we provide a hot link for this too?
    Unlike our own leaders in the Territory Government, Mr Stevens has shown real leadership by meeting with family, changing his mind and publicly withdrawing his support for this concept at the Anzac site. If only our elected members could set aside their egos and admit mistakes. Threats to Mr Stevens and others that the art/cultural centre will be lost to our community if the Anzac site is not approved are devious and those that peddle such spin and nonsense should be treated with the contempt they deserve. Bring on the next election!

  15. This is never going to happen.
    Central Australian art will be heading south to the now under construction Adelaide National Indigenous Art Centre funded by SA and Federal government on North Terrace.
    Not sure what level of consultation occurred in reference to that site but it’s happening. In my opinion infighting have lost Alice and the NT the national significance of this project.

  16. Mr Stevens said a wonderful thing when he proclaimed that the Gallery should be for all of us, black and white, in our town.
    I was surprised and uplifted.
    Had we finally turned a corner in race relationships?
    How quickly Mr Stevens capitulated under pressure.
    But why?
    In my opinion, the south of the gap argument is what you come up with after asking “how can we justify our opposition?”
    If that’s right what is the real reason for the about face?
    Is it possible that the custodians feel they are not getting much out of the gallery project?
    After all, the beneficiaries will be mostly western desert people, eg Papunya Tula artists.
    Is this the politics of envy?
    I would really appreciate a response to this from Mr Stevens.

  17. @ Jon (12 January 2022): Here is the news: “An exciting concept is now on the drawing board of the Central Lands Council at the moment.
    “The Council has been able to get an area of land adjacent to the river and the Stuart Highway, not far out of Alice Springs, and it is understood that there will be set up an artistic and cultural place of wide divergence and expression.
    “Details of the project have yet to be worked out, but enquiries at the Council this week elicited the information that it would probably be one of the most all-embrasing [sic] cultural movements in the Centralian area.
    “Broadly, the project envisages the stepping up of this type of work and the further extension of it among others, thus providing people who have diverse talents with a chance to express themselves fully, and to exchange ideas, methods and techniques.
    “A meeting of people entrusted with the working out of the pilot plan will be held very soon, and more details of this constructive scheme will be made available to those interested in taking part.
    “A spokesman for the Land Council said that care was being taken to ensure that the scheme was fully discussed and understood by all interested people.
    “The initial idea for the centre came from aboriginal [sic] people who wanted to ensure that full aboriginal participation was guaranteed, even if this meant that the scheme started in a low-key basis” (“Council’s Cultural Plans”, Alice Springs Star, 7/8/77).
    The story quoted above was the lead front page report published in the Alice Springs Star newspaper 45 years ago (I’ve not seen any mention of it in the Centralian Advocate). I was given several old editions of “the Star” last year.
    Although the “area of land adjacent to the river and the Stuart Highway” isn’t specified, there were only two possible sites at the time of where the CLC’s proposed Aboriginal art and culture centre could be located to match this description.
    The first was somewhere on the river bank between the Farm Area (Heavitree Gap) Causeway and Old Timers (the John Blakeman Bridge wasn’t built until a decade later); the more likely location was the area between St Mary’s Children’s Village and Pioneer Park Race Course.
    Both sites, of course, south of Heavitree Gap.
    To place the time of the proposed Aboriginal art and culture centre into some context, the following observations are made: the article was published within a week of the second NT Legislative Assembly elections, only days before CLP Majority Leader Goff Letts lost his seat and was replaced by Paul Everingham;
    – A major theme locally during the election campaign was a proposal for a casino in Alice Springs, originally envisaged to be located in the CBD to attract more people into the town centre. Work was already underway to convert Todd Street into a semi-mall (one way lane of traffic), a compromise on a suggestion made nearly a decade earlier for Todd Street to be converted into a pedestrian mall for the benefit of the tourism industry;
    – The Central Land Council was not quite a year old since the passing of the NT Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1976);
    – Conversely, NT self-government was just under a year away from being enacted;
    – The Pioneer Park Race Course (Alice Springs Turf Club) had commenced operation only three months earlier;
    – The CSIRO had not yet relocated from its town office in Ermond Arcade (Hartley Street side of the Yeperenye Shopping Centre car park) to its new Central Australian Laboratory on Heath Road, opposite Pioneer Park Race Course (although our family was living there in the CSIRO’s caretaker residence). The CSIRO moved there in 1978, now the location of the Centre for Appropriate Technology;
    – The current Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, was a 20 month old toddler.
    I had no idea of the CLC’s visionary project for a site south of town between the river and the Stuart Highway almost half a century ago; and it’s astonishing to think the Aboriginal art and cultural centre envisaged by the late Harold Furber to be located at the Desert Knowledge Precinct (the former CSIRO lease where I lived for many years) is so close to where the original site was meant to be.

  18. Alex, Bloody marvellous!
    Your contributions to the community memory of Centralia are priceless.
    Jon seems unwilling to grasp the idea that the cultural requirements of the local Aboriginal people continue to exist despite the fact that in the past they were not in a position to enforce them, or even have them heard.
    We can only imagine the stunned guffaws from Porky and the CLP at the idea.
    I’m also intrigued by the mall reference.
    It relates directly to the “reinvigorate the N end of the mall – non-argument that Gunner and Co are running in support of the Anzac precinct.

  19. @ Charlie Carter: I’m too cynical but I do find that cultural and commercial interests are often intertwined.
    Note that Owen Cole said that the Desert Knowledge Precinct should be the location for both cultural and commercial reasons.
    But what are the commercial reasons?
    Going back a few years I read here that Mr Cole and Mt Furber proposed a Nganampa Development Corporation that would also be located at the Desert Knowledge Precinct.
    This cultural centre was to be funded to the tune of $20m by the NT Government but that fell through.
    So is this relevant to my question as to why Mr Stevens did a backflip on his sentiment that the oval in the CBD was the right location for the gallery?
    In my opinion it’s very likely.

  20. Jon, I too have witnessed many examples of custodians providing inspirational leadership despite the fact that their cultural authority is relentlessly undermined by business interests and government.
    A process, I might add that you seem committed to continue! Accusing them of not doing enough: “Where were the custodians when our town was over-run by outsiders from remote communities and the crime rates soared?” is a really cheap shot.
    It seems the only time you clap is when statements by Aboriginal leaders are aligned with your own narrow interests for a mega project at Anzac using public money. Doubtless there are a many who want the Anzac location to proceed, it will be great for designers, builders, contractors of every size and shape, real estate values in the immediate area will likely see better than usual capital gain and nearby accommodation houses will also likely benefit.
    For many who hide their self interest, Anzac is not necessarily seen as the best location but rather the quickest and shortest route to Government money.
    You call the “resurrection” of this “South of The Gap” protocol “absurd”. Every culture is full of traditions that have been relaxed, hidden or modified over time to accommodate the needs of wider society, but when it comes to commercial interests you have little or no respect for this cultural referencing.
    Alex Nelson provides a further example of this protocol’s respectful observance long before the Anzac site was a twinkle in Gunner’s eye. I would add that Pitchi Richi, on the east bank of the Todd, just south of town could never have achieved it’s high level of collaboration with Aboriginal people, many whom were visitors to Mparntwe, on the northern side of Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap) in the 1950s.
    In fact the cultural importance of this boundary was clearly demonstrated when custodians symbolically challenged and gave a right of entry of the olympic flame in 2000. Similarly, Owen Cole has articulated the negotiations with custodians (that were very thorough and respectful) resulting in the Yeperenye Festival being located at Blatherskite.
    Cultural mores do not remain stationary and it’s likely that revival will continue in the future. Given these examples, a “nationally significant and culturally diverse” art gallery is likely to be more successful and give greater freedom to its concept designers and finally those directors and curators who will manage exhibitions if its located South of the Gap.

  21. @ Mike Gillam: So the custodians are showing leadership by reviving a cultural tradition in their South of the Gap demand, but greedy business and government are relentlessly undermining their cultural authority.
    The traditional cultural boundary was to pause, rather than prohibit, visitors so they could pay respect to Mparntwe before entry.
    Challenging, but not denying, the right of entry for the Olympic flag is a more recent example.
    I’m not sure the Yeperenye Festival in 2001 is another.
    With thousands of performers and tens of thousands of spectators could it have been held anywhere else but south of The Gap?
    But the current demand goes well beyond cultural resurrection by permanently excluding the gallery from Mparntwe.
    Regarding your claims about money driving the process, it’s surely fair enough for Governments who are putting up the funding to have a strong say in how it is spent.
    That includes where the gallery will attract the greatest audience and provide maximum benefit to the people of Alice Springs, both black and white, as custodian Mr Stevens told us.

  22. Good to see that the town council is ending its legal opposition to the NT Government acquisition of the Oval.
    Our new mayor is showing real leadership and business acumen.
    Hopefully Jimmy Cocking and his divisive supporters will continue to be sidelined.

  23. I voted for Paterson at the council elections and now that he has shown how weak he is I am ashamed of myself.

  24. @ John: Do you really think that our Council rates should fund a legal challenge to the NT Government securing the best site for the national gallery?
    I for one do not.
    Paterson has shown strength not weakness in making a tough call on our behalf.

  25. @ Jon: I know the Labor followers don’t want anyone else to have an opinion but I am still ashamed that I voted for the weak Patterson.

  26. I must ask, what is the plan for the Araluen Art Centre should the Anzac Oval go ahead?
    Is ALL the Aboriginal artwork to be transferred to the new gallery? If Araluen is stripped of this artwork, then what is its identity, given that locals and visitors alike associate it with the famous Namatjira watercolours and collectable dot paintings?
    Will the Araluen Art Centre still operate? If Araluen is decommissioned, what happens to:
    The Galleries and Theatre
    The Strehlow Research Centre
    The Central Australian Aviation Museum
    Central Craft
    Yaye’s Cafe
    And finally, what happens to artwork bequeathed specifically to the Araluen Art Centre?

  27. @ Psuedo Guru (4 February 2022): We’re all fixated on the flood risk for Alice Springs since the year dot but by far and away the greatest danger our town faces is from wildfire.

  28. You may both say fire and flood is greatest danger, but there is one far worse there and you don’t need to be Einstein to figure it out: That is the CRIME rate and as long as that is left to run rampant, then there no need for an Art Galley wherever it is placed, because no-one in their right mind will visit Alice to get robbed and become victims of crime just to see the art.

  29. How many more times do we have to re invigorate the mall before we realise that it is no longer fit for purpose? It was never envisaged to have traffic flows that we have now.
    Has anyone asked the two major banks why they moved or the shopping centre once in the plaza?
    Has the megafauna centre improved that situation? We don’t know because the visitor numbers have never been published.
    I suspect that the proposed cultural centre will go the same way. If the Big Mac organisation expected its clients to walk 200 meters to get a feed they would go broke, yet that’s what we expect our visitors to do with the visitors centre in its present position.
    Thats where the red hot arts centre should be. Arts are big business yet our promotion is well out of sight.
    The obvious solution is a dedicated tourism precinct based South of The Gap based around the cultural centre and the Transport Hall of Fame as in Winton and Mclaren vale.
    Please look at the wonderful display of machinery at Ilfrcome, East of Longreach, to see what is possible.
    Yet the pile of rusting vehicles at the rear of the hall of fame tell us of government lack of long term vision.
    Have the numbers of visitors stopping at the welcome rock ever been monitored?
    I recently sat there for just over an hour and counted over 100 visitors being photographed on that rock.
    No sign of the NT tourism people to tell and show what we have on offer. Yet this is a captive market for them.
    Has anyone seen the wonderful mural at he St Mary’s chapel? Or the history associated with that facility? There is so much more to offer in that area apart from the cultural centre.
    You may or may not concur withe politics of the deputy PM but he spoke on National Press Club this week on our area and mentioned Alice as a national logistic hub – which is so obvious but neglected. Here we have four, possibly five including the Tanami cross national roads, an internationally rated airport and a cross national rail all intersecting.
    Yet no one again is looking at the possibilities. Years ago Rex Connor in the Whitlam era proposed a national gas network which was rejected out of hand at the time.
    Yet Brewer is the closest point to the WA gas network and is much cheaper than via Moomba in the supply of WA gas to the Eastern states.
    Yet no one in government is looking outside the square. And it will continue with the current debate on the cultural centre.

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