Legislative Council: Thursday, October 20, 2022


Heritage Places (Adelaide Park Lands) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 18 May 2022.)

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (16:42): I rise to make some brief remarks on behalf of the government on the Heritage Places (Adelaide Park Lands) Amendment Bill, introduced by the Hon. Robert Simms.

The Adelaide Parklands are a treasured and hallmark part of our city, encompassing community and culturally significant places including Elder Park, Pinky Flat and the River Torrens. Colonel Light's unique design created the world's first and only planned city in a park. His vision was to provide a space where the unique natural surrounds could be enjoyed by all, and to this day the Adelaide Parklands provide a place for all South Australians to attend public events, get outdoors to exercise, to simply enjoy nature, to gather with others for a barbecue or picnic, and so much more.

In 2008, the Adelaide Parklands and city layout were included on the National Heritage List, the nation's highest heritage honour, because they are considered to be a masterwork of urban design and one of the most complete examples of 19thcentury planning.

While we do agree with the sentiment of this bill, we will be opposing it, as this is not the preferred approach for creating state heritage areas and, in the government's view, it fails to recognise the roles of the South Australian Heritage Council and the planning minister. The bill seeks to simplify the process for creating a state heritage areas but does not include:

the assessment and approval of the heritage council and the planning minister;

any public consultation;

the preparation of a statement of significance, outlining the area's heritage value;

the city layout as part of the state heritage area (and does not replicate the national heritage listing).

While we appreciate the intent of the honourable member's bill, we will not be supporting it for those reasons.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (16:44): The Liberal Party will be supporting this piece of legislation consistent with our position when this bill was presented to the parliament previously. This amendment bill is substantially the same as the Heritage Places (Adelaide Park Lands) Amendment Bill 2021, which the Hon. Mr Simms introduced into the Legislative Council in December last year and which passed in February 2022.

Although the intention of this bill is to circumvent the formal process required for an area to be afforded recognition as a state heritage area, the South Australian State Heritage Council has previously given consideration to the listing of the Adelaide Parklands and CBD layout as a state heritage area. The council made the following observations:

[It is] an outstanding representation of a nineteenth-century planned colonial settlement. The principal components of Light's 1837 plan are the original layout, width and grid pattern of the city streets; surrounding outer ring of parklands; six internal squares; and the topographical response to the terrain. These components remain clearly legible today and served both the economic and well-being needs of early settlements.

The bill also makes related amendment to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 to apply the necessary heritage overlay as prescribed by the Planning and Design Code to the heritage area that will be created over the Adelaide Parklands once this bill is passed.

As I said, when this bill was presented in February this year the then Marshall Liberal government supported the bill with several amendments that were intended to achieve consistency, and these were supported by the Hon. Mr Simms. They included creating a state heritage area over the Adelaide Parklands and the CBD layout, which would ensure consistency between the new state heritage area and the area that is afforded national heritage status under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. It would also ensure that the area which is afforded the status of being a state heritage area is consistent with that recognised by the South Australian Heritage Council as being meritorious.

Secondly, applying only the state heritage area overlay under the Planning and Design Code, not 'any overlay relating to state heritage' ensures that the state heritage area is not also overlaid with the 'state heritage place' overlay to avoid errors and confusion. The bill the Hon. Mr Simms has introduced this time does not have those amendments, but I understand he has filed amendments that will mirror the amendments that were moved by the government at that time.

The implications for the Adelaide Parklands and CBD layout being afforded protection as a state heritage area are the same as when we considered these last year. We are disappointed that the Labor Party in government has chosen to renege on their support for the bill, which just goes to show you cannot trust Labor, particularly when it comes to heritage. We support the bill.

The Hon. C. Bonaros: Unless it is for a basketball stadium.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. C. BONAROS (16:47): I might actually say that on the record now: the opposition supports the bill—unless, of course, it is for a basketball stadium. There we go—I have said it.

An honourable member interjecting:

The Hon. C. BONAROS: Yes. With those opening remarks, I rise to speak on the bill and indicate that on the previous occasion when this bill was passed we too supported this bill. I think the record reflects that my colleague the Hon. Frank Pangallo spoke very strongly in support of this piece of legislation.

Of course, a lot of things have happened since then, but we continue to stand in support of protective measures to ensure our Parklands and the heritage buildings within them are reflective of the benefits our Parklands provide to our community. I think Frank said at the time—and I am sure the Hon. Roberts Simms will remind me—that heritage is not just about buildings, it is also about the environment we have, and have had for more than a century.

He acknowledged the importance of protecting it. He spoke about the importance of not having a free-for-all in our Parklands where commercial developments begin taking chunks of green spaces and infiltrating the skyline. That was the gist of what my colleague said then and it continues to be our position now.

While we are supportive of protecting our Parklands—I am not going to sugar-coat it—there is of course a huge elephant in the room. That elephant is the government's proposal for a new Women's and Children's Hospital on the site of the Thebarton Police Barracks. It does not take much to see the competing interests here from where I sit. Ideally, if we are serious about dealing with these issues then it is important that we consider, side by side, this bill and the government's bill that they have just introduced today.

Of course, when I was having discussions with the Hon. Robert Simms earlier this week, I had no idea about the time frame of that legislation, but what we did not want to be doing is considering one piece of legislation in isolation from another piece of legislation when we knew that there would be some interaction between the two. That is the point I made to my colleague, because we know that at first glance—and I have had a quick glance at the bill that was introduced by the Attorney earlier today—there are absolutely provisions in here that deal with state heritage places and propose changes necessary to give effect to the act, where those heritage places exist.

I accept the position that was put to me yesterday, that every bill should be considered on its merits, but I am also very much a realist, so I have lots of questions about what the impact will be and what the interaction will be between these two pieces of legislation. I think the benefit we now have today is that we actually have both pieces of legislation before us, so we can consider them in the weeks ahead, knowing that we have both, in terms of what the impact would be of the government's bill on this bill and what the impact of this bill would be on the government's bill.

As we know, the devil is always in the detail, and prior to today we simply did not have all that detail before us. We do now, so it is our job to go away and look at that. As I said earlier, I am acutely aware of what our position and the position of everyone in this place was when this bill was last debated and, as I said, my colleague spoke at some length about the importance of this bill against the backdrop of pushing the envelope when it comes to developments on our Parklands, incursions of some subdivisions on open space and the need to protect the environment more broadly.

We now, as I said, have both bills before us so we can consider those side by side, if you like, but for the purposes of today—and this bill is going to a vote today—it is our intention to vote in favour of this bill today and consider it between houses, of course having had the opportunity to consider what is being proposed by the New Women's and Children's Hospital Bill. With those words, I commend the member.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:53): Given some time has passed since we dealt with this bill, I will just briefly summarise the history behind this. The Adelaide Parklands were established in 1837, the world's first public park, and Adelaide remains the only city in the world that is fully garlanded by parks. It is often said that Adelaide is a city in a park, not a city in a car park as many seem to envisage for the CBD.

In 2008, the Parklands received national heritage listing by the then federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Peter Garrett. It was in 2009 that the process formally began to ask the State Heritage Council to consider whether SA should follow the federal government's lead and actually provide that state heritage protection.

Well, 12 years later and still the clock is ticking. There was a process of public consultation back in 2017, and I understand there were a record number of submissions and I observed this when I first introduced the bill in the previous parliament. There was also a recommendation of the State Heritage Council to include the Parklands on the state heritage list, so it is disingenuous for the government to claim that the process has not been followed or that there has been insufficient consultation.

I want to thank the opposition and SA-Best for their support of this bill. The position of SA-Best is consistent with the view that they expressed to the Parklands Association in a survey that was published on their website in the lead-up to the last election. In that survey the SA-Best party stated, and I quote from that submission:

We would like to see legislation to declare the Adelaide Parklands heritage listed to provide them with this high level of protection into the future, and a bill reintroduced and passed in the new parliament. We will strongly support that and pressure for it to be a priority in the House of Assembly.

It goes on to further say:

SA-Best has strongly supported national and state heritage listing, and we will do whatever is necessary to support this land being rezoned back into its original process.

I appreciate the support of the Hon. Connie Bonaros for this bill, and it is my expectation that will continue going forward, consistent with the position they took to the last election.

It is disappointing, however, to note the position of the Labor Party. They say that a week is a long time in politics. Well, seven months must be a whole age, because when they were in opposition they were very happy to pour scorn on the Liberal Party, and rightly so because their record on the Parklands is abysmal, but they were very happy to pour scorn on the Liberals, but then when they are in government, when they have their bums on the treasury benches, what are they doing in terms of actually delivering on a different outcome?

Back in February every political party in this place supported state heritage listing for the Adelaide Parklands. What has changed? They won the seat of Adelaide and now they are taking it for granted. I can tell you that there were lots of people who supported the Labor Party in the seat of Adelaide because they were aghast at the Liberal's management of the Parklands and contempt for our public green space, yet what have they got from the new Labor government? They have got more of the same.

Might I say, at least the Liberals supported this bill in the last parliament. They said they would make it a priority and they have stood firm in supporting it in this place. The same cannot be said for Labor. With friends like the Labor Party, the Parklands hardly need enemies. I had an opportunity to look back at the second reading speeches given on this bill, and I want to quote from a statement made by the Hon. Emily Bourke on 8 February in this place. I make no criticism of the Hon. Emily Bourke, she was simply stating the position of the Labor Party at that time. She said in her speech:

A state heritage area may include areas notable for their distinct heritage characters or a sense of place formed by building and structures, spaces and allotments, patterns of streets and natural features or the development of the landscape.

The Adelaide Parklands fits well within all of the above qualities of what makes it an important and valued sense of space.

She goes on to talk about how this bill was an important way of recognising those characteristics. Why has the Labor Party changed its position? It is very easy to talk about loving the Parklands, but do not pay attention to what comes out of their mouths—look at what they do with their feet. Look at how they vote on the Parklands. That is the test and that is the test of leadership that the Labor Party has failed time and time again when it comes to our public green space.

If they love the Parklands, they should list the Parklands, bring South Australia into line with the national heritage listing and show some leadership on this issue—stop the flip-flopping, stop the backflipping. This is the party that gave away our Parklands, our public green space behind this very building, to the Walker Corporation many years ago. South Australians are aghast at seeing this monument to the development sector that is being erected behind our state parliament and they will be urging Labor to show some leadership on this issue and to support the position that they took in the lead-up to the last election; that is, to support this bill.

Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage

In committee.

Clause 1.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Can the mover of the bill please explain to the council what green space was removed by the Walker tower development?

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I thank the honourable member for picking up on that. The point I was trying to make is that that is open space, public space, and it could have, indeed, been returned to Parklands at a fraction of the cost. Indeed—

The Hon. I.K. Hunter interjecting:

The CHAIR: Order, the Hon. Mr Hunter!

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: —my predecessor, the Hon. Mark Parnell, ran a competition to identify alternative uses for that site. But I take his point: it was not actually Parklands; it should have been returned to it though.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: Can I just have a question about the Botanic High School and the expansion of that school and the impacts on our Parklands?

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I am not sure what the question is that the honourable member is asking.

The CHAIR: The Hon. Ms Bonaros, would you like to rephrase that?

The Hon. C. BONAROS: I am just asking, in a similar way, whether there are any impacts of the expansion of the high school in terms of our Parklands at the Botanic—

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: On this bill?

The Hon. C. BONAROS: Yes.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: There may well be some implications for listing. However, it is my understanding that legislation like this would not prevent this project or the hospital or any other project from proceeding because this area has already been rezoned by the previous government to allow such projects to proceed. Obviously, one of the benefits of an inclusion of the Parklands and the city plan on the list is that it provides an important consideration as part of those discussions. That is the whole purpose of the bill.

Clause passed.

Clause 2.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

Amendment No 1 [Simms–1]—

Page 2, lines 9 and 10 [clause 2(1), definition of Adelaide Park Lands]—Delete ‘has the same meaning as in the Adelaide Park Lands Act 2005’ and substitute:

means the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout described in the Schedule to the notice published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 of the Commonwealth for the purposes of including the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout in the National Heritage List (see Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No. S238, Friday 7 November 2008)

Very briefly, this amendment was actually suggested by the previous Liberal government on the basis, I think, of advice provided by the department at that time, and that was to ensure the city plan was also included in the listing. I gave an indication at that time that the Greens were supportive of that and that I had intended to include that in the reintroduced bill, so I have moved it as a separate amendment. I do not need to speak on the second amendment, but the same arguments apply.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As I indicated in my second reading contribution on this, these amendments were amendments which were moved by the government when this bill was first brought to this parliament earlier this year, prior to the election, so we will be supporting the amendments.

Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.

Remaining clauses (3 to 5) passed.


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

Schedule 1, page 3, lines 22 and 23 [Schedule 1, clause 1, inserted paragraph (ca)]—

Delete 'any overlay relating to State heritage' and substitute:

the State Heritage Area Overlay

As I indicated before, I do not need to speak to this amendment.

Amendment carried; schedule as amended passed.

Title passed.

Bill reported with amendment.

Third Reading

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (17:06): I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Bill read a third time and passed.