Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 01, 2022


Centre for First Nations Cultures

The Hon. S.G. WADE (15:04): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on Aboriginal affairs.

Leave granted.

The Hon. S.G. WADE: On 5 August last year the final designs for the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre were released by the former Premier Steven Marshall. At that time the member for Lee in the other place, Stephen Mullighan, now the Treasurer, accused the member for Dunstan of being 'all talk and no action' on the centre, arguing the project was then two years late and $50 million over budget. He said, and I quote: 'This was meant to start construction last year and South Australians would be right to wonder if it will ever be delivered.'

Yesterday, Premier Malinauskas announced that he has suspended work on the Centre for First Nations Cultures citing it was a further $50 million over budget. My question to the minister is: given that the current Treasurer criticised the former Liberal government for being 'all talk and no action' when it acted to invest an additional $50 million in the centre, why shouldn't the Aboriginal community see the current government as all talk and no action when it has stopped all work on the site and is not committing any further funding to the centre?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:06): I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly I have had quite a number of discussions soon after we came into government, before we came into government and since the announcement of the review of the Centre for First Nations Cultures at Lot Fourteen. Aboriginal people that I have spoken to and have made representations to me, that I have talked to since the announcement yesterday, are overwhelmingly positive for an announcement that looked to make sure that a centre that recognises and celebrates tens of thousands of years of the oldest living culture on this planet is done justice.

The Centre for First Nations Cultures was proposed, as the honourable member pointed out, by the former Marshall government to be delivered at Lot Fourteen near the corner of North Terrace and the Botanic Gardens. Upon coming to government, the government was advised that the $200 million project capital will fall short to deliver a vision of a centre of international significance. I am advised experts from professional services teams led by Woods Bagot and architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro have advised that delivering the centre within the DIIS project budget would require a significant reduction in scope, which would deliver a centre only of local interest and standard.

Following this advice, the government has launched an urgent review to examine how to best deliver the cultural centre as a truly world-class cultural institution. As I said, my discussions with members of the Aboriginal community in South Australia over months and years in the past, and certainly over the last couple of days, have indicated a very, very strong support for taking action that delivers something that is not just of local interest but is of a truly international standard that pays proper respect to the Aboriginal cultures of this state and of this country.