Mparntwe Custodians oppose the Anzac site for National Aboriginal Art Gallery

26th May 2020

The Northern Territory Gunner Labor government says it intends to build The National Aboriginal Art Gallery at the ANZAC Hill precinct, after Native Title group Lhere Artepe’s supported the ANZAC Hill precinct.

Labor says it has been through an extensive consultation process with the community and stakeholders, including traditional owners and is confident it had majority support for the ANZAC Hill precinct site.

However, Mparntwe Custodians Benedict Stevens and Doris Stuart have come out in opposition to the gallery being build on the Anzac Oval site, they responded with the letter below.

"This is a sad time for us as we grieve the loss of our family members. In an extremely sensitive time of hurt and sorrow, the Northern Territory Government have chosen to advance the conversation around the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery. The timing of the recent developments demonstrates the utter disrespect the NTG and Lhere Artepe have chosen to show Mparntwe custodians.

The Mparntwe custodian family group invited Minister Lauren Moss in good faith to a meeting in June 2019, in an attempt to start a more respectful discussion around the NAAG. This meeting was facilitated by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority in accordance with AAPA policies around custodian consultation. Over 30 family members attended.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a clear and unanimous decision was delivered to Minister Moss that we would support the National Aboriginal Art Gallery, on the very important condition that it is located South of the Gap. Minister Moss acknowledged in the meeting that this decision was received loud and clear.

This was the FIRST meeting that gave Mparntwe custodians as a family group an opportunity to speak directly with Government to discuss the gallery.

No Minister or NTG representative has chosen to meet with Mparntwe custodians since the June 2019 meeting. Lhere Artepe does not speak on behalf of Mparntwe custodians. Decision-making authority over Mparntwe rests with our apmereke artweye through birth rights written in their skin, not a body corporate operating under majority rules.

Lhere Artepe has no jurisdiction over the ANZAC Oval precinct, as Native Title has been extinguished.

Further, Lhere Artepe has chosen not to consult all of the affected Native Title Holders in relation to ILUA [Indigenous Land Use Agreement] negotiations in the Mparntwe estate.

Extinguishment of Native Title rights cannot be made without all affectedMparntwe Native Title Holders’ consent.

We have been forced by the NTG and Lhere Artepe in our sensitive time of sorrow to address these issues, as well as reiterate that the Mparntwe custodians DO NOT consent to the NAAG being built on the ANZAC Oval precinct. Our position has not wavered since our letter to the Alice Springs Town Council in January 2019, or our meeting with Minister Moss in June 2019.

Mparntwe custodians made multiple requests after the June meeting to work with the NTG in good faith on designing a more direct and respectful consultation process, and the NTG chose to circumvent those requests. We now respectfully ask that we are left to grieve the loss of our family members.

On behalf of Mparntwe custodians,
Benedict Stevens [and] Doris Stuart."

Apmereke artweye
Date: 23/05/2020t