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Greens Park Lands Heritage Bill Reintroduced

19 May 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS:

I rise to speak in relation to the Heritage Places (Adelaide Park Lands) Amendment Bill, and I will keep this brief; I am conscious that members are probably sick of hearing my voice today. This is a very important bill. It seeks to add the Parklands to the list of South Australia's State Heritage Areas.

Members will recall I introduced an identical bill into the last parliament, and I was really delighted to see all political parties in this place come on board and support it. I am hoping that spirit will continue when this bill is brought to a vote in a coming parliamentary session. The Adelaide Parklands are an iconic and cherished part of our city. Adelaide remains the only city in the world surrounded by park; in fact, the world's first public park. Seven hundred hectares of park remain, but we must work hard to ensure that this unique part of our city is not lost. We know with our public green space that once it is gone we can never get it back.

In 2008, the Parklands received National Heritage listing by the then Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Peter Garrett MP. In 2009, the process began to ask the state Heritage Council to consider whether SA should follow the federal government's lead and declare that the Parklands are worthy of heritage recognition at a state level. Thirteen years on, we are still waiting.

A process of public consultation commenced in 2017, and it featured a record number of submissions in support of the state heritage listing. In 2018, the then state Liberal government committed to including the Parklands on the state heritage list following a recommendation of the state Heritage Council, yet here we are in 2022 and South Australians are still wondering when we will see our beautiful, rare, city green spaces included on the state heritage list.

The Parklands are subject to slow erosion. Often we do not even notice that it is happening, but the Parklands were once 930 hectares and are now only 700 hectares. They continue to shrink. Each successive generation loses a little bit more, and there is no way to fight it, no mechanism to reclaim it. That is why legislation like this is so important. The Malinauskas government has axed the former government's plan to build a stadium on our precious Parklands. We welcome this decision, but we need to do more to protect our green, open public spaces that circle the city.

State and World Heritage listings would send governments of both persuasions a clear message that the Parklands are iconic and they should not be the plaything of developers and vested interests. Our Parklands should not be for sale. The Adelaide Park Lands Management Strategy, which was endorsed by the Weatherill Labor government back in 2015, calls to maintain the culture and heritage of the Parklands through World Heritage listing. The Greens are supportive of those efforts, and we see this bill as being an important step.

The bill is a very simple one. All it seeks to do is include the Parklands on the state heritage list—something that is a prerequisite for a World Heritage listing consideration, I suggest. The Parklands are for everybody. The benefits are for all of us to enjoy. If our federal government can recognise their significance through heritage listing, why can't we? South Australians know how precious our Parklands are. They are the envy of cities around the world. We cannot wait any longer to protect our cultural, historic, Indigenous and environmental heritage through a bill such as this.

As I say, it was really encouraging to see the widespread support for this bill in the last parliament and I am hopeful that members will get on board with this bill when it comes to a vote in coming parliamentary sessions. With that, I conclude my remarks.