Legislative Council: Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Adelaide Parklands

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (16:13): I move:

1. That a select committee of the Legislative Council be established to inquire into and report on the management and preservation of the Adelaide Parklands, with particular reference to:

(a) whether the Adelaide Park Lands Act 2005 is achieving the statutory principles of the act, having regard to section 4 of the act;

(b) whether ministerial responsibility for the Parklands is sufficiently clear during decision-making processes;

(c) consideration of delegated powers for the Adelaide Park Lands Authority;

(d) ways in which the area of green, publicly accessible open space within the Parklands can be expanded;

(e) initiatives which would enhance the biodiversity of the Parklands;

(f) consideration of recommendations about legislative reform;

(g) the appropriateness of the government’s decision to relocate SAPOL from the Thebarton Police Barracks to Park 21 West: Golden Wattle Park/Mirnu Wirra;

(h) the benefits of state and/or World Heritage listing for the Parklands; and

(i) any other related matters.

2. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council.

Adelaide's Parklands are a unique and much-loved feature of South Australia's colonial settlement, planned by Surveyor-General Colonel William Light in 1837. In his design he created a grid pattern of streets that were surrounded by Parklands, recognising the importance of fresh air and open spaces in urban areas.

The Parklands are approximately 700 hectares of precious open space, which provides South Australians with the chance to enjoy formal and informal recreational opportunities and community events. They preserve biodiversity in our urban environment. They are home to many prominent institutions as well as cooling and greening our streets in a practical way. Their historic layout has been preserved for more than 185 years.

In 2008, the Adelaide Parklands and city layout were afforded recognition on the National Heritage register, with the entry stating that they are:

…the most complete example of nineteenth-century colonial planning…the only Australian city to be completely enclosed by park lands and has the most extensive and intact 19th century park lands in Australia.

There is a concern in the community that the Parklands are under threat, with there being a number of significant government projects that are earmarked for development within the footprints of the Parklands. Since forming government in March 2022, the Labor government have announced the new site for the Adelaide Aquatics Centre, the new Women's and Children's Hospital and the relocation of the Thebarton Police Barracks, all of which will have an impact on the footprint of the Adelaide Parklands.

There are questions from our community about whether alternate sites have been given appropriate consideration. Are there additional projects in the planning stages that will further erode the footprint of the Parklands? Will the community be provided with alternate green open spaces to account for the erosion of the Parklands, or are they simply a land bank for the government to take advantage of?

Prior to the election in March 2022, the Labor Party committed to, and I quote, 'protect Adelaide's unique Parklands'. Actions speak louder than words and it is apparent that the government's intention to honour this commitment is nil. Members of this place may recall that in late 2022, we had an opportunity to increase the protection of the Parklands through recognition of the Adelaide Parklands and CBD layout on the State Heritage register.

The bill was brought to this place by the Hon. Robert Simms MLC, and I am pleased the bill did pass this chamber, despite the Labor government's decision to not support it. It is important to remind our community of Labor's backflip on this issue: they supported the bill for State Heritage listing when they were in opposition and since coming to government they have not supported the bill.

Labor cannot be trusted to protect the Parklands and to deliver the spirit of their election commitment, which is one of the many reasons why the opposition is moving to establish a select committee into the management and preservation of the Adelaide Parklands. We have an obligation to preserve the Adelaide Parklands for the benefit of present and future generations and it is unclear whether the Adelaide Parklands Act 2005 is achieving this aim.

The proposed select committee can inquire into and consider whether the legislative framework to protect the Adelaide Parklands is adequate, if ministerial responsibility for management of the Parklands is clear, how we increase the biodiversity of the Parklands and whether we can expand the open space in the Parklands that is available for community use and access.

I wish to acknowledge the support that I have received from members of this place in relation to the motion and I look forward to the motion passing this chamber some time in the near future. With that, I indicate to the chamber that I will be bringing this motion to a vote during the next sitting week.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. R.P. Wortley.