he NT Government has ignored the advice of an expert report it commissioned and announced that a proposed $150 million Indigenous art museum would be built at Alice Spring’s Anzac Oval.
On Friday, Minister for Tourism and Culture Lauren Moss revealed the location for the planned National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Museum, which is on the edge of both the Alice Springs CBD and the Todd River.
It would be Australia’s first national Indigenous gallery, although South Australia has also recently touted plans to build one.
Yet a report commissioned by the NT Government and written by a hand-picked steering committee recommended the museum be built in the Desert Park precinct area.
This would place the museum at the base of the McDonald Ranges, but not within walking distance of the CBD.
While the report discussed Anzac Oval, it concluded that the size of land could constrain development, there was a minor flooding risk from the Todd River, there was a sacred site nearby and the sporting facilities would require removal.
However, it put the oval forward as the most suitable CBD location.
‘Not a site that was even recommended’: Higgins
Despite ignoring the key recommendation on location, Ms Moss said she “really valued” the work the committee had done.
“They’ve made 14 recommendations to government to consider, of which the site is only one,” she said.
But Ms Moss would not commit to accepting the other recommendations made by the steering committee.
No-one from the committee was present at the announcement, and the two co-chairs could not be contacted on Friday.
That has raised the suspicions of Opposition Leader Gary Higgins.
“My understanding is they are not happy about the site, it was not a site that was even recommended,” he said.
“This highlights the fact that they’re really not listening to Central Australian people.”
The announcement formed the keystone of a major address by Chief Minister Michael Gunner on the year ahead for Alice Springs.
No funding secured for $150m gallery
Mr Gunner said the decision to build the museum in town was based on community consultations.
“It was based on all those conversations, all that work, all those consultations with locals,” he said.
“What we will have here is a site located centrally in Alice Springs that is within walking distance of a lot of other fantastic assets here in Alice Springs.”
There was no indication of any progress on securing funding, since the Government announced it would be looking for money from both the Federal Government and corporate sector for an expected $150 million price tag.
Ms Moss said she was having conversations with her federal counterpart, as well as the corporate and philanthropic sectors about sharing the cost of the gallery.
She was non-committal when asked if any specific agreements had been reached.
“We’ll be working with national organisations and we’ll be looking to work with the Federal Government on this,” Ms Moss said.