Ms SANDERSON ( Adelaide ) ( 10:32 ): I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The Parliament of South Australia established the Capital City Committee under the City of Adelaide Act 1998. That act is recognition that a thriving capital city is critical to the overall success of the state. The act establishes arrangements for the intergovernmental liaison between the state government and the Corporation of the City of Adelaide for the strategic development of the city.
The objective of the act is to recognise, promote and enhance the special social, commercial, cultural and civic role the City of Adelaide plays as the capital city and heart of South Australia. The act allows for three members of the Adelaide City Council and three from government. Since the committee's establishment in 1998 up until 2010, the member for Adelaide had always been a member of government and therefore has had access to all of the information discussed by the committee and the ability to put forward views on behalf of their constituents.
From 1998 to 2002, the Hon. Michael Armitage was the member for Adelaide but was not on the committee. I have been in contact with Michael Armitage and he informed me that there was no need as all initiatives were discussed in the party room where he could freely access information and put forward his views on how it would affect his electorate. From 2002 to 2010, Dr Jane Lomax-Smith was the member for Adelaide and the chair of the Capital City Committee. I believe the current situation of the state member being in opposition was not anticipated when the act was established.
The committee's role is one of facilitation and coordination, with formal decisions referred to the state cabinet and the Adelaide City Council. Within this role the committee had broad functions to enhance and promote the development of the city with the powers to:
(a)identify and promote key strategic requirements for the economic, social, physical and environmental development and growth of the City of Adelaide as the primary focus for the cultural, educational, tourism, retail and commercial activities of South Australia;
(b)to promote and assist in the maximisation of opportunities for the effective coordination of public and private resources to meet the key strategic requirements identified by the committee, and recommend priorities for joint action by the state government and the Adelaide City Council;
(c)monitor the implementation of programs designed to promote the development of the City of Adelaide;
(d)make provision for the publication, as appropriate, of key strategies, goals and commitments relevant to the development and growth of the City of Adelaide that have been agreed upon by the parties who are, or will be, required to undertake responsibility for the implementation or delivery; and
(e)collect, analyse and disseminate information about the economic, social, physical and environmental development of the City of Adelaide with particular emphasis on assessing outcomes and identifying factors that will encourage and facilitate future developments in the City of Adelaide.
These are all issues that are not only of broad concern to South Australians but more importantly they directly relate to and affect the lives of the people living in Adelaide. Inherent in democracy is the role of the member for Adelaide to voice the interests of their electorate. It is not for the government of the day to make decisions about their electorate—especially with regard to heritage buildings, CBD population, shared road use, and CBD development—without consideration of the opinions of the affected constituents. I quote from a speech from the Hon. Ann Bressington on 30 May 2012 from the other place where she said:
Our constituents deserve…that their chosen representative in the House of Assembly, regardless of whether their vote in parliament contributes towards the formation of government, be a member of the Capital City Committee.
For while the City of Adelaide is our state capital, and as such must be governed and planned for the interests of all South Australians, for these constituents it is also their home town, and they must not be forgotten nor their voices silenced in the planning debate.
The reality is that since the Capital City Committee's inception in 1998 the state seat of Adelaide has not been held by a member who is not a member of the governing party.
Removing the politics, the question is simply whether the member for Adelaide on behalf of constituents they represent, and regardless of from which party they hail, should be on the Capital City Committee. Clearly, I believe they should be and the bill has my support.
On 6 September 2012 in the House of Assembly, the Hon. Bob Such said:
I am very surprised that the government would want to deny this opportunity. I am all in favour of democracy and I think this is just an extension of the democratic principle that the people who live in an area should have a say and that it not be left to others, in terms of issues that will be considered by that Capital City Committee. I strongly support this bill. I think it has merit, I think it is reasonable, and I urge government to reconsider if it is planning to oppose it.
In a ministerial statement on 23 November 2011 the Premier, Jay Weatherill, described the Capital City Committee as holding a 'pivotal role in revitalising the city' and 'reaffirmed the committee's commitment to working together on real change agenda to enliven the City of Adelaide'. The people of Adelaide must also, through their elected member, have a pivotal role in the revitalisation of the city, not just the committee. When we say 'working together', working together includes actual people who live in the city and their elected representatives. So it is a bit of a farce to have a committee designed around the future of Adelaide without the elected member for Adelaide being part of the committee. In a further ministerial statement, the Premier stated:
The community expects its government to be open and accountable and should have confidence that decisions its government makes are for the right reasons.
Given this statement, why can't the elected member for Adelaide be part of the committee? If the government is open and accountable, then quite logically the local member should be a part of the committee making decisions for the area.
I give you an example of some of the topics that are discussed by the Capital City Committee, and given that I cannot access their minutes or FOI any information, these come from other sources. I quote once again from the ministerial statement given by the Premier on 23 November 2012 where he said:
We committed to work together on a real change agenda to enliven our city, including activating side streets, laneways and spaces between buildings; finding new uses for vacant buildings, including heritage buildings; reducing red tape so new enterprises can flourish in Adelaide's CBD; having a flexible planning regime for the city centre; promoting shared-use roads; and increasing the population living in the city.
From a radio precis on 21 December 2011:
The Adelaide City Council has referred its plan to introduce lower speed limits in the city centre to a State Government committee…The plan will now be considered by the Capital City committee.
From the Hon. Gail Gago in the other house:
Victoria Square is a project of the Adelaide City Council…The government gave some financial commitment some time ago to assist in advancing the project, and I think the Adelaide Capital City Committee has responsibility for its oversight.
When the member for Ramsay asked a question in the house about planning reforms for the City of Adelaide, the Hon. Deputy Premier said:
Work has continued, and the government and the Adelaide City Council have been discussing what a reformed planning agenda for our capital city needs. I have been meeting with—and I continue to meet regularly with—representatives of the Adelaide City Council, including the Lord Mayor and members of the Capital City Committee, to keep them informed of progress.
All of the topics that are covered are of great concern to myself and the people I represent—for example, things such as the city's safety.
I have personally participated in three night audits of the West End, East End and the Gouger and Grote Street area on behalf of my constituents because safety is of great concern to them. I think that it is fair that not only am I notified of what is happening in these areas, but that I have a voice for my community. I am the person they ring when they have issues, so I am the one who needs to be able to pass on their concerns on their behalf.
The city activation, which is also a function of this committee, is concerned with residential buildings and conversions, public realm interventions and activating Adelaide's buildings. Every time the council or the government puts out a plan, whether it is a local heritage listing or new development plans for the city, it is my office that people call to try to understand and make sense of what is going on. I should be part of this so I can pass on information.
When this bill came up for discussion previously in this house, members made some comments that I would like to address. It has been raised that adding another member would cause an imbalance in the numbers, given that currently there are three from council and three from state government. From my discussions with Michael Harbison, who was a member of this committee for approximately 10 years, I have been able to ascertain that the committee does not actually vote on anything, so an imbalance in numbers would have no effect.
It has been argued that my inclusion on the committee is not warranted as the Adelaide City Council represents the views of their constituents. Whilst I acknowledge the good work of the Lord Mayor and councillors, as we all know, councillors are paid a small allowance to compensate for their time; however, most of them have full-time jobs or other occupations.
I believe Michael Harbison was the first lord mayor who made the job a full-time position and the current mayor has continued this tradition. In saying that, the Town Hall is not like an electorate office with full-time electorate staff who have regular interaction with their local community. Being a state member of parliament is a full-time job that involves being aware of the views of the community they represent.
It is about assisting, informing and advocating for my constituents who are currently denied any representation by my not being part of this committee or having any access to the minutes or
information discussed at this committee. As the local member, I receive a diverse amount of information to my office and personally act to represent the views of my constituents. Many decisions have been made by the government which do not truly take into account the effects on those constituents. It is my job to ensure their views are represented and taken into account.
The point has been made that I am not part of government or cabinet and my being on the committee would open up the committee's deliberations to public scrutiny. This is a weak argument. The members from Adelaide City Council are not part of government or cabinet and, as far as I am aware, none of them have signed any confidentiality agreements. Michael Harbison does not recall signing anything during his 10-year tenure. Given this, the deliberations are already at risk of public scrutiny, and so they should be. My involvement in the committee would be for the benefit of the constituents of Adelaide.
I think this is basically a common-sense piece of legislation. It is obvious that the member for Adelaide should be part of a committee formed to produce outcomes that will affect those living in the City of Adelaide. This bill gives the government the opportunity to show that it can transcend party politics and work together for the betterment of the City of Adelaide. I commend this bill to the house.