Further to our article ‘SA Government Prepares to Blast City Council off Adelaide Oval Parklands’, (www.kryztoff.com/RAW/?p=2705), Adelaide City Council Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood has confirmed to Kryztoff today the current Council position as being that the Council voted unanimously on 8th March in favour of providing in-principle support for a governance arrangement for Adelaide Oval based upon a lease to a new independent entity (the SMA), upon terms and conditions to be agreed, subject to Council retaining management and control of the precinct, including revenues from car parking. All of these new arrangements would be subject to full consultation with the public before finalisation.
Lord Mayor Yarwood also makes it known that the full resolution was made available to the State Government, SACA and SANFL and it is available on the Council’s website.
Notwithstanding, the SACA Information Booklet (the IB), issued a month later, states that it is the State Government that will granting the lease to the SMA and priority licenses to the SACA and the SANFL and that the SMA will be collecting the car parking revenues.
While the Lord Mayor does state that the Council 8th March resolution ‘doesn’t preclude a new independent entity from granting the various leases and licences that SACA refer to, the exact nature of these arrangements, including arrangements for the control of car parking are yet to be finalised.’ He goes on to say that ‘Council are currently pursuing an MOU with the State Government as a mechanism for resolving these outstanding issues.’
‘Not yet finalised’!
Kryztoff understands that these negotiations around a MOU have not even commenced, let alone reached any sort of basic understanding that could underpin SACA’s statements and that the ACC wrote to the SACA a ‘please explain letter’ after the release of its IB on the governance issues, to which only an acknowledgment has been received by the ACC.
Questions posed to both the SACA and Minister Conlon on this issue by Kryztoff in recent days have gone without response.
The ability of the State Government to deliver on the SACA stated position is also weakened by the acknowledgment in Saturday’s Advertiser by the Premier that his government does not have the numbers to legislate this matter through both Houses of the SA Parliament.
Mark Parnell from the Greens confirms this position from his party’s perspective stating to Kryztoff that although his party supports the Adelaide Oval redevelopment, the Greens will not support the expenditure of $535m of State money on the project. Says Mr Parnell, ‘that money can be better spent on education, health, disability services, the environment and countless other projects crying out for support. Cricket and AFL should be well placed to attract the investments we have been told are needed to facilitate the proposed upgrade without such a demand on the public purse.’
He goes onto say that the Greens would not (as they have not previously on similar issues) support the transfer of the ACC’s custodian role to the State Government as the IB implies is going to happen.
Clearly then the question must be asked whether the IB is misleading on at least this issue. (The repeated images of the proposed footbridge across the Torrens are another as this walkway is not the subject of the proposed $535m redevelopment spend on the oval.)
Given, the legal arrangements between the parties are fundamental to this redevelopment proposal, content presented as definitive on this question must be regarded as a serious affront to the Information Booklet’s and SACA’s credibility. This is especially so as the IB admits there is no other agreement between the parties involved beyond ‘a term sheet to record the in-principle arrangements proposed by’ the SACA and the SANFL of November 2009, now 16 months old.
At that time, the expected and announced cost was in the order of $450m (now $535m), there have been numerous changes to designs and concepts (the costs and details of which have not been made public) and the SACA and SANFL have still never reached mutual arrangements about their own relationship (including the impact on their members) let alone met either of the Government’s May 2010 or August 2010 deadlines for doing so.
Greg Howe, spokesperson for the No case at www.saveadelaideoval.com, agrees saying the SACA needs to correct its IB on this issue and what he describes as ‘a number of other errors and omissions.’
The question posed by Kryztoff prior to the release of the IB as to why SACA members are being asked to vote on this proposal when so many matters – designs, costs, legal arrangements, agreements with SANFL etc – are simply unresolved remains.
Presenting its collective wishes as definitive facts in a document like this is not something the SACA could get away with were they a company and subject to the requirements of the Corporations Act on such transactions. For starters on that, the SACA would be obliged to present an independent expert’s report that said the deal for members was ‘fair and reasonable’. This may be a stretch given the IB states the value of the assets SACA is selling into this transaction is some $55-65m less than the $85m in debt repayment it will be receiving for them.
Yet another reason why the SACA needs to withdraw its IB and start this process again to ensure its members are properly informed with facts and not hopes.
PS Kryztoff is grateful to a reader who queries whether a reason the State Government et al wish the ACC removed from its historic role on the land relates to the potential rent and rates it may charge the SANFL for its use. Presently, the SACA pays only $30,000 per annum (plus CPI increases.)
However, the 1998 case of SANFL v Charles Sturt Council establishes that the SANFL’s use of its land at West Lakes is for a commercial purpose and thus can be rated on that basis and not as a recreational area (being a much lower rate). Judging by this case, there are no reasons why the SANFL’s use of the Adelaide Oval would change the nature of its use relative to that at West Lakes. Further, the SACA may well find that its use also triggers a reassessment of its own rates and rent status.
Informed estimates place likely commercial rent at hundreds of thousands of dollars, around 10 or more times the SACA’s current rent.
If nothing else, this poses again the question why forcing a vote on the redevelopment on SACA members while these matters remain unresolved is appropriate.
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