May I begin by thanking the Governor for his address and also on the way he continues to carry out his duties in our community, along with Mrs Scarce.
I support the great work the Governor undertakes in promoting South Australia.
The Governor spoke about the Rann Government’s commitment to reconnect and re-engage with the State. Now, a lot of my colleagues have already raised how the government lost connection and failed to engage with the state.
I will not go into the myriad of ways in which the Rann Government failed to connect, but as Shadow Minister for Sport and given it’s a topical issue at this point in time – I wish to spend some time discussing the Rann Government’s stadium disaster – the planned Adelaide Oval redevelopment which the Governor touched on briefly in his speech.
Prior to the last election, our party announced a well received plan to establish a world class stadium within a cultural and entertainment precinct in city west, instead of this government’s unpopular $1.7 billion rail yards hospital plan.
The Premier and Treasurer identified that the Redmond Liberals’ plan was an exciting vision for the State and regrettably came up with a half baked and rushed solution to attempt to neutralise our vision.
As Greg Kelton wrote in The Advertiser recently;
“a cynic, and I have been described by one senior ALP figure as one of them because I have expressed concerns about the future of the project, could be excused for agreeing with Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond that the announcement was nothing more than an attempt to hose down the Liberals’ plan for a covered city stadium which had struck a chord among many punters.”
This is a hypocritical government and one which demonstrated during the last election that it will stoop to any level to hold onto power. It’s simply a government which cannot be trusted.
Let’s not forget that in the recent past, Government Members criticised us for calling for an inner city stadium – “wasn’t needed”, they told us – but my, how they have back flipped.
“In a press release in August 2002, Sports Minister Wright said:
“This Government’s priorities are in the areas of health and education, and I cannot justify taxpayers’ funds being spent on grandstands.
We’ve already said ‘no’ to the South Australian Cricket Association’s request for money to redevelop the Adelaide Oval…”
“He was joined in his attack on funding for SACA at the time by Treasurer Foley, who went further by withdrawing an $11 million grant, and said:
“If they want a grandstand they can build one themselves” and “I think we have enough taxpayer-funded grandstands in this city” (Advertiser, July 6, 2002)
As I said, how times change and what a difference public opinion and an election can make!
Except, as it stands, and as more information leaks out about the process, it’s clear the Government’s stadium plan is in trouble. Deep trouble.
The Premier of course knows that the huge swing against Labor in the seat of Adelaide was in part due to that particular electorate refusing to accept this half baked Adelaide Oval redevelopment.
During the State election campaign, the State Liberals identified that this project was shrouded in secrecy and in crisis. The crisis continues and of course today it was announced another $85 million is being tipped into the project after the Premier recently said it will be $450 million only from this Government and not a dollar more! What a farce, what an absolute joke.
On Monday, Liberal Finance spokesman Rob Lucas detailed our concerns about blowouts and other issues. Concerns which cannot just be swept under the carpet as they are valid and disturbing concerns. As Rob Lucas wrote in his press release;
“The cost of the Adelaide Oval project had now blown out from $450 million to almost $700 million.
Information on the $250 million blowout has been provided to the Liberal Party by sources with an intimate knowledge of the detailed workings of the new Stadium Management Authority (SMA) and its two working parties.
The project costs include the costs of the roof on the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre, the bridge across the Torrens and a new multi-level car parking facility, which is required to meet some of the car parking needs of the project.
The proposed above- and below-ground car parks are on the north eastern corner of the Montefiore Road and War Memorial Drive intersection and would have an obvious impact on some of the tennis court facilities on the site.
It has also been revealed there is a massive further blowout in the costs of SACA’s current redevelopment project of the western grandstands. SACA doesn’t have a fixed price contract for the project and the costs have blown out from $85 million to approximately $115 million.”
He then went on to detail some of football’s concerns:
“The SANFL told the Rann Government last year that one of their “non-negotiable” conditions to even consider the Adelaide Oval project was that they would not contribute $1 to any blowout in the claimed costs of the $450 million project.
Given that SACA is actually in debt, it has no prospect of paying for any blowout.
Therefore, if the project proceeds, taxpayers will have to pay the bill for any $250 million blowout.
These figures make it clear why many football figures are increasingly concerned that football is being used by the Rann Government to bail out the financial problems of SACA and cricket.
It is also why football figures like Bill Sanders, John Reid and Mark Ricciuto have raised concerns about the Rann Government’s project not being in the best interests of the SANFL and the Adelaide Crows in particular.
Given this massive blowout in the costs to almost $700 million, and the increasing opposition to Labor’s policy, Mr Rann and Mr Foley need to justify why they will not consider a new stand alone covered stadium in Adelaide’s CBD.
It should be noted the SANFL approached the Government last year with their proposal for a $643 million stadium and the Liberal Party released its policy for an $800 million stadium in the city.
Some of the other “non-negotiable” conditions laid down by the SANFL last year should also be remembered; they include:
• Rann Government must ensure SANFL and SACA have total control of not just Adelaide Oval but the whole precinct bordered by King William Road, War Memorial Drive, Montefiore Road, and Pennington Terrace, including resolution of any planning or heritage issues involved with any required development in the process;
• SANFL must receive increased revenue flows of $8 million per annum (indexed) from the move;
• Benefits and rights of AAMI Stadium, Adelaide Crows and Port Power Members should be equal or better than current arrangements.
It is clear that some of these “non-negotiables” from football are not achievable from the latest proposition.
So even if Mr Rann’s ego leads him to commit taxpayers to whatever it costs ($700 million plus), the project will not proceed unless the SANFL’s “non-negotiable” conditions are met.
This project is now a major embarrassment to Mr Rann and Mr Foley and demonstrates their financial incompetence in managing large projects and taxpayers’ money.
It always was an ego driven, knee-jerk, ill-prepared response to the Liberal Party’s policy of a covered CBD stadium, and the recent evidence is just confirming that fact.
If Mr Rann and Mr Foley are now going to spend $700 million on this project, why not admit they are wrong and build a new covered stadium based in Adelaide’s CBD and controlled by football?”
Why not indeed….
Again, I reiterate that the terrible result for Labor in the seat of Adelaide was in part due to the electorate rejecting Labor’s plan to further redevelop the iconic Adelaide Oval.
It was also a brilliant campaign by Rachel Sanderson of course who deservedly now takes her place in the Parliament. As the Local Member, I know she’ll continue to argue against the $1.7 billion rail yards hospital we’ll be paying off for generations to come and against the Government’s half baked stadium plan.
We on this side know that the majority of voters wanted the Royal Adelaide rebuilt on its current site and the land at city west saved for a new, covered, multi-purpose stadium.
I say to the Premier and Treasurer that it’s not too late. The electorate is used to your government performing back flips and to nicking Liberal policies. You’ve done so before with desalination, police tazers and land tax reform to name just a few.
You copied our general idea of a city stadium capable of hosting major events such as the World Cup but we’re now just asking you to get it right and abandon this project to build a brand new covered stadium.
Moving on, besides calling for the Rann Government to admit they’ve failed on their stadium plan, I will be closely following several Government Ministers during the next four years.
The Governor outlined some of the government’s big plans in a whole range of areas and I will be tracking how it goes in portfolio areas I have responsibility for, including three new areas in addition to sport, recreation and racing, and tourism.
Having sat on the Aboriginal Lands Standing Committee for some time, I have long had an interest in Aboriginal Affairs and am delighted to take on this portfolio. I applaud the Member for Morphett in the other place who has done a great job with this portfolio and is a terrific advocate for our Indigenous communities. Indigenous representatives I’ve met with hold him in high regard.
I look forward to assisting Indigenous South Australians through my work in this portfolio and have already highlighted my concerns with how Federal Labor’s great big new mining tax will affect job opportunities for Indigenous South Australians in places such as Prominent Hill – which I know has an excellent employment program for local Indigenous people.
Corrections is another challenging portfolio I’ve taken on and I look forward to what the Government will do to ensure this area is appropriately resourced now the new prison plan is off the table.
I have already embarked on a whirlwind tour with my staff and thank the Minister, his staff and Departmental staff for organising these visits – which I have very much appreciated.
I will speak in some more detail about this area again in this place but, can I say, I have already gained a huge amount of respect and appreciation for the first class job corrections officers do with the limited resources they’re provided.
I hope and trust that the Treasurer’s ‘razor gang’ goes nowhere near any of these people and call on him to guarantee he will not.
I also have taken on responsibility for the gambling portfolio and it is an area of great interest to me.
I have met with industry representatives in this area as well as members from the concern sector such as UnitingCare Wesley’s Mark Henley – specifically about electronic gaming machines.
While the industry and concerned sector oppose each other on many matters relating to gaming machines I know that along with me, harm minimisation is high on their agenda. Clearly, we have problem gamblers in our community and they need and deserve our assistance as there are no winners when it comes to problem gambling.
As the Shadow Minister I want to ensure Legislation to address gambling related harm is focused on problem gamblers and potential problem gamblers and should not unnecessarily inconvenience the vast majority of recreational gamblers.
I don’t play pokie machines – never have – but I understand that there are many people in our community who enjoy them in their recreational time. It’s when it becomes an addiction that people need help and I will be doing my best to ensure problem gamblers get the help they need.
I also recognise there needs to be a reduction in gaming machines in South Australia but what I won’t do is talk tough like the Premier whilst delivering no real results.
The Premier’s 2004 plan to slash 3000 gaming machines from pubs and clubs has failed. If his plan had worked, we would now have 11,884 machines in operation.
We currently have 12,713 EGMs in operation as at March 2010 – 829 above Mr Rann’s target.
I look forward to all of my parliamentary and portfolio work over the next four years and to holding this government to account.
Lastly, I welcome all of the new members to this place, my new colleague the Hon Jing Lee, and also the Hon Kelly Vincent and the Hon Tammy Jennings. I look forward to working productively with you all.
I also welcome the new members who have won seats in the other place: but especially the Liberal Members for Adelaide, Norwood, Morialta, Chaffey, Stuart and Flinders.
I shall follow their careers with much interest.