28 June 2023
Introduction and First Reading
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
Today is the day for closing loopholes. This bill is closing another loophole that exists within the New Women's and Children's Hospital Act. Members may recall, during the debate in relation to that legislation, the Greens highlighted concerns around a provision that gave the Minister for Police the opportunity to essentially allocate a slab of the Parklands to SAPOL for a new Mounted Operations Unit, for a new police barracks.
The Greens were very concerned about that at the time, and we moved an amendment that would have taken that provision out of the bill. That was opposed, unfortunately, by every other party in this place, and so the bill went through without that amendment. Then what we saw in March was the state Labor government proposing an enormous land grab by SAPOL of our Adelaide Parklands—an enormous land grab that would have taken up a huge slab of our public green space.
There was some real concern about that in the community. What happened was that the government announced that it would be finding an alternative site for the SAPOL barracks. We appreciate that and we welcomed that change of heart. There was a big campaign run across the community and one that featured a number of different sides of politics. I recognise the contribution of the Liberal Party to that campaign, in particular Jack Batty in the other place, who I know was campaigning hard on that issue. But there were a number of people in the community—the Parklands Association, the Conservation Council, Trees for Life and others—who were very concerned about SAPOL seizing our public land.
The government backed down and they announced that they were going to be finding another site for the barracks. We welcome that. However, the threat remains because the government still has power under this act to make the Parklands available for SAPOL for a future land grab. What this bill seeks to do is to close that loophole once and for all, to make it very clear that the government cannot go down that path again and that even if they change their mind or if SAPOL fights back and decides it wants another go at our green space, the minister would not have the power to allocate the Parklands for that purpose.
This should not be a controversial bill because the Labor Party has found another site for SAPOL's barracks, so if they are fair dinkum about that, then they will support this bill. If they do not support the bill, though, then the community will conclude that they are not bona fide in the commitment that they have made, and the community will be very concerned, heading into the next election, that they may not make good on the promise they made in terms of quarantining the Parklands from any police barracks in the future. This is an important test of resolve of the Malinauskas government and also the Liberal opposition, who have talked about this issue. Now is an opportunity for all parties to put on record their support for the Parklands and to close off that potential avenue for a future land grab by SAPOL.
I want to put members on notice that I will bring this bill to a vote after the midwinter break, so that there is an opportunity for members of parliament to consult with their communities, but I hope members seize this opportunity to resolve this particular debate once and for all and to ensure that our Parklands are safeguarded from any potential land grabs from SAPOL in the future. This government does not have a good track record when it comes to our Parklands. They do not have a good track record. Now is the opportunity for them to step up and try to make things right.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.E. Hanson.