Legislative Council: Thursday, March 09, 2023


Adelaide Oval Liquor Licence

The Hon. F. PANGALLO (15:13): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, representing the Minister for Police in the other place, a question about conflict of interest.

Leave granted.

The Hon. F. PANGALLO: The Liquor Licensing Commissioner, Dini Soulio, last July, approved the sale of liquor cans at Adelaide Oval after SAPOL agreed on terms with the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority and withdrew its opposition on public safety grounds. The move came as a shock and betrayal to the South Australian Police Association, which remains concerned about the risk of injury inside the venue. The lead police officer who had oversight of discussions and the process with the AOSMA was Assistant Commissioner, Operation Support Service, Linda Fellows, who signed off on the decision to agree to the application to vary the liquor licence and allow for the sale of cans.

At all material times through the application process, Assistant Commissioner Linda Fellows was, and still is, a paid sitting member of the Adelaide Crows Football Club Board, serving as deputy chair. A freedom of information request lodged by my office to SAPOL asked for a:

…copy of conflict-of-interest declaration of Assistant Commissioner Linda Fellows regarding her role on the Board of the Adelaide Crows and involvement in this matter.

This formed part of a larger application making inquiries into what information formed the basis of SAPOL's surprising about turn.

The response from SAPOL was that, after conducting inquiries with Assistant Commissioner Linda Fellows, no such document was located. In other words, no evidence that Fellows declared her interest when the Adelaide Football Club, along with Port Adelaide, the SANFL and SA Cricket Association, all stood to benefit financially from increased revenue from liquor sales.

However, I received emails between Fellows, another police officer, Paul Mitchell, and Superintendent Matt Nairn, in which cautionary notice was given by Mr Mitchell about a perception of a conflict of interest of SAPOL's dealings with the Adelaide Oval's venue manager who, as luck would have it, happens to be a serving police officer on extended leave of absence.

It can be drawn from that that Ms Fellows should have also been aware and made known her own obvious conflicts and recused herself. My inquiries also found no material evidence that a formal risk management plan was prepared for consideration. SAPOL—Ms Fellows and Commissioner Stevens—simply ticked off the commissioner's briefing paper dated 25 July 2022 by putting its trust in the AOSMA on safety. Nowhere to be seen in that document is there reference to any environmental benefits in ditching the environmentally friendly biodegradable plastic cups. It's all about making more money, so be up-front about it. My question to the minister is:

1. Will he now ask the police commissioner and Assistant Commissioner Fellows to explain why she didn't recuse herself and openly declare a conflict of interest in overseeing SAPOL's involvement in the AOSMA's application, given her significant position as deputy chair on the Adelaide Crows Football Club Board?

2. Will the minister order an investigation to determine whether there have been code of conduct violations?

3. Will he ask the police commissioner who had directed Assistant Commissioner Fellows to take conduct and oversight of this process? And did that authority instruct Ms Fellows as to a perception of a conflict, given her active role on the Adelaide Football Club Board?

4. Why was the decision made and signed off by Assistant Commissioner Fellows and Commissioner Stevens to support the varied terms negotiated between SAPOL and the SMA to sell liquor in cans without a risk and public safety management plan being tabled?

5. Can the commissioner and assistant commissioner explain the unusual action of SAPOL in providing assistance—rather than advice—to the applicant party, the AOSMA, in its application to vary its liquor licence? And is this going to be normal practice now for SAPOL and the liquor licensing branch to assist other applications from the hospitality sector?

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Pangallo, that was hardly brief, but we will move on.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:19): I thank the honourable member for his question. As you mentioned, Mr President, it wasn't a brief explanation but I understand fully that it's something about which the member has, clearly, a very strong interest. I am happy to refer the question to the relevant minister in the other place and bring back a response to the chamber.