Legislative Council: Thursday, February 08, 2024


Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (16:57): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to insert the second reading explanation and explanation of clauses in Hansard without my reading them.

Leave granted.

The Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium is required to provide for the establishment and management of public botanic gardens and herbaria, and for other purposes under the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium Act 1978.

To achieve its purpose, the Board is tasked with supplementing its funding from government with additional sources of revenue in order to deliver the full scope of its responsibilities and program.

Increasing and diversifying the revenue options open to the Board enable it to raise money which is needed to support capital expenditure and maintenance of its existing assets, and to enable the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium to deliver important new scientific, conservation and public engagement projects.

The Ministerial letter of direction to the Board, dated August 2021, requires it to:

endeavour as far as reasonably practicable to supplement the annual operating budget allocation it receives from Government from a range of sources including commercial activities (to the extent it has power to engage in such activities), and

in order to help carry out its functions … seek funds through commercial activity, sponsorship and bequests.

The Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium Act 1978, as currently drafted, provides limited capacity for the Board to pursue commercial opportunities which could support its ability to secure additional sources of funding.

The Board has explored a range of commercial and joint venture opportunities to increase revenue, but has found its capacity to do so limited within the bounds of its authority under the current legislation.

Under the current wording of the Act, the Board's legal capacity and powers to raise revenue through commercial activities is limited to a very narrow range of projects, and specifically cannot engage in any joint ventures. This is in contrast to other similar Arts and Cultural organisations where the legislation is broader allowing for greater flexibility.

To ensure that the Gardens has the ability to pursue commercial opportunities, the government is introducing the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2023, and the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium (Miscellaneous) Amendment Regulations 2023.

The Act amendments aim to enable the Board to address the issue of entering into a broader range of commercial arrangements (including commercial partnerships and/or joint ventures) under the Functions and Powers clauses of the legislation. The amendments ensure that the Board may not charge or collect fees for general entry to Adelaide, Mount Lofty or Wittunga Botanic Gardens, and that no changes will be made to the current paid parking arrangements.

These changes, which are in line with community expectations for its public gardens, will enable the Board to find diverse ways to raise money to support the important work of the organisation and ensure the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium remain places of great beauty for all to enjoy and resourced to pursue significant scientific research that informs our understanding of plants, fungi, algae and biodiversity.

The Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2023 passed the House of Assembly on 6 February 2024. The government supports this bill and commends it to the Legislative Council.

Explanation of Clauses

Part 1—Preliminary

1—Short title


These clauses are formal.

Part 2—Amendment of Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium Act 1978

3—Amendment of section 13—Functions of Board

The functions and powers of the Board are amended by this clause to allow the Board to engage in commercial activities. This clause also amends section 13 to the extent that the Minister may assign further functions to the Board, rather than such further functions being prescribed by the regulations as is presently the case.

The power of the Board to deal with shares or other interests or securities, or to borrow money or other forms of financial accommodation can only be exercised with the approval of the Treasurer.

4—Amendment of section 27—Regulations

This clause amends section 27(2)(c) such that the regulations may only prescribe charges for admission to the Bicentennial Conservatory rather than to the gardens generally.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. L.A. Henderson.