I rise to talk about the vibrancy of the Adelaide CBD and the proposals put forward in the Property Council of Australia’s report ‘City of lights’, that were the topic of today’s front page of The Advertiser. What the report emphasises is that Adelaide has much to learn from the city of Melbourne in terms of the regulation of development. Current government policies when it comes to land tax, stamp duty, property development, liquor licensing, event scheduling and attraction of events are harming Adelaide’s ability to compete with the three eastern seaboard capitals and also with Perth.
The report outlines the policy changes that need to occur to encourage a vibrant CBD. These are real changes, changes that the Liberal Party understands and has so for years. The major change which the Liberals are perpetually committed to is a reduction to stamp duty and land tax. There is only one reason these taxes are high—this state has too much debt. The government needs to rein in its spending so that taxes can be lowered and private development and enterprise can flourish.
If the government truly wants to double the CBD population, it must firstly stop the flow to the suburbs. The city of Melbourne has done this through the encouragement of inner city living as a lifestyle choice, encouragement of the arts and a relaxation of development and licensing regulations. A relaxation in these two areas of regulation will encourage the development of laneway bars and ex-industrial residential living, but most importantly this will promote entrepreneurialism, particularly amongst younger people. If this is embraced, young people will not need to move to Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane to follow their passions, and Adelaide will finally shake its backwater tag.
During the month of March, this city is abuzz; people come from all over Australia and all over the world to enjoy the hospitality, the art and the experience. However, increasingly over the past few years we have not looked at any other time of the year for our events. The government continues to cram more and more into this one month. This is why events need to be spread over the entire 12 months. Why can this feeling not be attached to Adelaide all year round? In particular, the Adelaide Cup needs to move from March to May.
It is not only young people who will benefit from this, but they will ensure the city and state’s long-term viability and vibrancy. Local businesses, both big and small, will benefit enormously. With looser regulations, lower taxes and a fledgling mining sector, it is my hope that big business is once again attracted to Adelaide as a home for its head offices. With the right conditions, mining in this state may well become a boom sometime in the future, but unfortunately just saying it is a boom, as this government has done for 10 years, does not make it a boom.
Major development status needs to be utilised a lot more by government to override the often obstructive and unadventurous Adelaide City Council. I am not being critical of its decision-making, as I am certain it is looking after its constituency, the residents, as well as following its by-laws. Nothing less could be expected of them, but the CBD affects more than just those who live within the boundaries of the Adelaide City local government area, and many, if not most, of the developments which go ahead within the CBD have an effect on the broader South Australian community, not just those who vote in the council elections.
Taking the power to approve and reject major developments in the CBD out of the council’s hands will demonstrate to the rest of Australia that we want your company’s business and that the government is here to assist with that every step of the way. The sad thing about this discussion is many things being discussed were embraced by other cities a long time ago; by Melbourne in the 1980s.
Former premier, Mike Rann, always touted himself as a true successor to Don Dunstan, but what reforms did we see and what happened? The state went backwards during his 10 years, not forwards. By the late 1970s Adelaide was renowned as a vibrant city where city living, fine dining and the arts, coupled with our traditional strength as a sport-loving, friendly and multifaceted culture, made us the envy of those interstate. It annoys me to say that this title is now held by Melbourne; they are now at the helm.
I realise that, since that time, we have gone through an economic disaster with the State Bank. The Brown, Olsen and Kerin governments worked hard to get this state into a position of economic stability and ready to flourish again. Some things had to be sacrificed because of it. Since the 2002 election we have had 10 years of Labor: 10 years of waste and 10 years of mess. What has been achieved? Nothing but reckless spending and seedy political spin. It is time we changed this and made our great state and capital city the leading light of our country once again.