Legislative Council: Wednesday, April 10, 2024


Festival Plaza

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:30): I rise to speak this afternoon about a matter that will be important to any South Australian who cares about the character of the City of Adelaide, and that is the decision of the Malinauskas government to green light a second tower on the Festival Plaza—38 storeys, no less, to sit alongside the 29 levels that have already been constructed on our public space. This is Crown land, land that belongs to all South Australians.

I must say that, when I heard this announcement, I was shocked and dismayed that the extent of the vision and imagination of the Malinauskas government when it comes to this premier site in the City of Adelaide is yet another office tower. We already have a vacancy rate in the City of Adelaide when it comes to office buildings of about 20 per cent. Why on earth is the government building yet another office tower? Why on earth is it giving the Walker Corporation the right to build another tower in that location?

I have heard some of the comments made by the planning minister in this regard, where he talks about this being an iconic building. This is not the Opera House, this is not the Taj Mahal, it is not the iconic Festival Centre, it is an office tower and it is one that is going to overshadow our historic Parliament House and obscure the view for the public and prevent the public from being able to enjoy this key civic space.

The government says that office space is going to be a key civic space, and I think the community is meant to be excited about the prospect of schoolchildren touring an office and checking out the remarkable office space. We are going to have four storeys made available to the public, yet there is no assurance that this will be anything more than just a food court for the office workers in that building. It is a disgrace.

Where was the tender process here? When will the community find out how much the Walker Corporation is going to be paying the people of South Australia to take control of that parcel of land? How do we know whether or not this is going to be a commercial deal? Will the taxpayer be asked to contribute to this, given the South Australian taxpayer has already forked out more than $200 million to support what is in effect a private development? Who will be the tenants? These are all important questions that the Malinauskas government must answer.

I think it is outrageous that they have treated our public space with such disdain. This sends a very clear message to the people of South Australia around our planning system. It demonstrates that our planning system, of which the Labor Party is the architect, serves developers. It puts the interests of developers above the interests of the community and it is an absolute disgrace.

It is not just the Greens saying this. I was interested to read some of the letters to the editor today. I want to quote from my friend and former colleague Anne Moran, with years of experience on the city council:

If this had been announced before the Dunstan by-election, Labor would have lost. It shows who really runs this state—it's the developers!

C and D office space can be upgraded, but will now probably be left to rot because the demand has been met by this building on community land.

Bring on…the next election. Many will not vote for Labor after this betrayal.

John Irving writes:

What a great spot to house a major arts company!

That is in relation to the destruction of the Edmund Wright House, which has been able to fall into disrepair. I can quote from Barbara Ferguson, who states:

When is our…government going to show real leadership in the development of Adelaide?

People are up in arms about this. This is community space, it belongs to all South Australians, and the Labor Party needs to do much better.

Time expired.