RAW: The Adelaide Oval Legislation – More Than About Carparking

In the classic style of an organ of public opinion that will allow no views other than its own to prevail, The Advertiser has relegated issues relating to the proposed Adelaide Oval / SMA legislation to just one matter – who controls car parking.

As expected and predicted far more sinister aims actually exist.

First and foremost, the legislation proposes that the Adelaide Oval area be under the sole control of the Minister. This is the first break with the historic role the Adelaide City Council has played under the Parklands Act since it was first past 150 years ago. What’s more the Minister gets to act without fetter from such annoying constraints on his design wishes by either the Park Lands Act, the Development Act or the City of Adelaide Development Plan.

This may not be so bad, replacing one democratically elected body with another, except that what is then proposed is an 80 year lease to the SMA, a privately owned body of people associated with football and cricket which has no taxpayer representatives on it and has a board that is not even answerable to its own shareholders for its performance.

That means the SMA can do anything it likes to the land and it has to jump no planning or other regulatory hurdles – none – in doing so. So, when it suits, good bye the northern mound, scoreboard and Cathedral views. Indeed this is already contemplated with the legislation providing for the (temporary) erection of stands on the northern mounds – all amendable by the Government of the day.

Then, in its revenge attack on the City Council for its Victoria Square recalcitrance, the Government proposes this land is made exempt from being rated by the ACC. This deals with the potential issues previously identified by Kryztoff of the ACC lifting rates dramatically (as it was already intending to do in a couple of years) and multiplies the ACC’s losses on top of lost car parking.

So, the parklands bounded by King William Rd, Montefiore Hill, Pennington Terrace and the river under this legislation will be no longer parklands. Effective title will pass to an unaccountable private body that has to meet no planning or other regulations. And this right under Light’s nose!

In a low point for Advertiser editorials (and that is saying something), last Friday the rationale for supporting this was put forward as:

‘The Parklands are not a museum. They must also make temporary way for vehicle access for leisure activities. This already occurs for cricket and the Royal Show.
‘Surely Colonel Light’s vision for a workable city would not have meant that the Adelaide City Council, with a mandate delivered by only 6300 voters, should be allowed to override the modest needs of the football-going public, which would outnumber that figure by a factor of three even at the worst attended AFL game.’

The fact that this 3:1 ratio did not even hold up for the Port game the following day is of no great moment when one considers where this logic of course leads and that is to the uncomfortable question to The Advertiser of why 10,000 SACA members who purportedly voted in favour of the spending of $535m on their stadium are allowed to prevail when 1.2m taxpayers are the ones who are actually paying for it.

Sadly little logic is coming from those who ought to be standing up for the public interest. The Liberal Party still has no view and the Lord Mayor, as is the new habit of politicians in this State when faced with a monumental cock-up, has conveniently buggered off overseas for three weeks at the very time his Council faces the greatest threat to its autonomy and relevance in its history.

However, one trick up its sleeve is the fact its approval for the controversial leases to facilitate the new RAH is only conditional. These provide a series of nine year and 364 day leases to more parklands to allow the hospital development to proceed without parliamentary scrutiny.

Now the City Council has its cash flows and relevance threatened by the Adelaide Oval legislation, now might be a good time for the Council to show some spine and respond in kind to Government. Now is especially a good time with its main appeaser, Lord Mayor Yarwood happily out of contact in Europe on some study mission.

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