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Adelaide Park Lands Amendment Bill

27 October 2021


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Adelaide Park Lands) Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act to ensure that any amendment to the Planning and Design Code that relates to development in the Adelaide Parklands must be approved by resolution of both houses of parliament.

This is a simple change but it is one that is vitally important. We know, of course, that the Parklands are currently subject to a code amendment process and that the state government has announced plans to rezone the Riverbank area. This rezoning would allow commercial development on the Parklands, including shops, cafes, a Riverbank arena and even high-rise towers, some of which are residential.

The government has been progressing this at lightning speed. This is the most significant change to the Parklands in decades, an enormous land grab from the state government, yet it has been progressing with just six weeks' consultation—totally inadequate. The consultation on the code amendment closes today and the community have been given a meagre six weeks to consider the implications of this. It is an outrage.

What happens on the Parklands has significant implications for all South Australians because this public green space belongs to us all. The Parklands are indeed the lungs of our city but they are also nationally heritage listed. Back in 2010, the then federal environment minister, the Hon. Peter Garrett, included the Adelaide Parklands and the city plan on the national heritage list. One of the concerns around what the state government is proposing here in terms of its code amendment is that commercial development on the Parklands could jeopardise our national heritage listing.

Indeed, many of the things being proposed here, like a Riverbank precinct, could significantly impact on the vista, in terms of the views from the Parklands, and significantly impact on the public enjoyment of that green space. As a result, our national heritage listing could be compromised. That would be disastrous in terms of the future of our Parklands, particularly when there has been a long-term campaign to see World Heritage listing for our iconic green space.

This land is also of cultural significance to the Kaurna people. Kaurna elder Jeffrey Newchurch recently advised the Adelaide City Council Reconciliation Committee—this was reported in TheAdvertiser—that the proposed site for the entertainment arena was of cultural significance. That has not been adequately considered by the government. The History Trust (correction: History Council) of South Australia has also sent an open letter to Premier Marshall, reported in CityMag today. In the letter, they state that:

The HCSA objects to the Government’s proposal to acquire land for Government purposes…and to rezone it for uses other than open space and community recreation facilities.

The HCSA strongly objects to each of these proposals that will decrease the area of the green belt encompassing the city.

There is mounting opposition to these radical rezoning plans: opposition from Aboriginal elders, opposition from the History Trust of South Australia, opposition from Parklands advocates, and opposition from the South Australian community more broadly—those who care about our public space and do not want to see it being commercialised and privatised in this way.

My concern is that if we go down this privatisation path, if we go down the path of commercialising our city's public green space, if we see cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, apartment towers and the like, we will never, ever get it back. The future of our Parklands, the lungs of our city, is really hanging in the balance.

Therefore, given such high stakes, it is vitally important that the parliament has a say. This should not be a decision that resides with the government of the day or indeed the minister. It should be a decision that resides with the whole parliament, and that is what my bill is seeking to achieve. It is simply inserting a requirement on the government of the day that if they are proposing a rezone of the Parklands that will not come into effect until there has been a resolution of both houses of parliament.

That is a vital safeguard. I think it is something that South Australians would welcome, and I hope that all parties will get on board and support it. It is my intention to bring this to a vote before the election so that this parliament has an opportunity to have a say on this important reform. I call on the Marshall government to pause their plans to privatise our public green space until the parliament has at least had an opportunity to consider it.

This is a land grab of historic proportions. It threatens the very future of our Parklands and let me say to the government that if they want to press ahead with this, they will not be able to do so without one hell of a fight from the Greens. We will be fighting them tooth and nail. We will be fighting for the right of the parliament to have a say and for the concerns of the South Australian community to be heard. A six-week consultation period is an absolute disgrace. This parliament needs to have its say on this code amendment, and that is what this bill would do.