Protection of heritage places

5 May 2021

Mr DULUK (Waite) (10:33): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I know you love and protect heritage, Mr Speaker, as all of us do in this House. We all appreciate and understand the significance, opportunity and importance of protecting heritage not only the natural environment and the heritage built up over some 60,000 years of Indigenous culture in Australia but also our built heritage and the important role that built heritage plays in the fabric of our communities, our suburbs, our towns and our state.

There are many benefits to the preservation of heritage, from the aesthetics and character that historic places contribute to our suburbs to the immense economic and social benefits derived from built heritage. You only have to look at the old towns of many of the cities of Europe that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, from Rome to Paris to Kraków to parts of old London, where people walk the streets admiring the centuries of built heritage and travel every year to do so, providing much economic benefit to those cities.

From illustrating the unique story of our state and nation to providing a special place for people in community groups to meet, the benefits of heritage are endless. We can see the endless benefit from the recent strengthening of heritage protection for the suburb of Colonel Light Gardens as a good example of our community's desire to protect unique and important built environs across Adelaide.

Fortunately, my electorate of Waite is full of examples that demonstrate these benefits, including Old Government House in Belair National Park, which provides a home to the Friends of Old Government House. On Monday's ANZAC Day holiday it set a new visitor daily record in the number of takings. I am led to believe they received some 130 visitors, 62 afternoon teas and several tours. Not only does this building provide a purpose and social opportunity for the Friends of Old Government House but it also provides educational and economic benefits for the rest of the community, and this is just one example.

Previously, I spoke in this house about other places around my electorate that also provide these benefits, including Carrick Hill and the unique legacy that the Haywards have left to the people of South Australia, through not just wartime service and the Christmas Pageant but also the important environ of Carrick Hill. There is also Urrbrae House and the legacy of Peter Waite, Scotch College main house and Belair railway station, which is currently being used as part of the state's History Festival. Once again, I thank the Blackwood Action Group and their history subcommittee for the hard work of that committee. There is also the historic precinct and bakehouse in Coromandel Valley, just to name a few.

One that in particular has been an important debate in recent times, and indeed is the genesis for the introduction of this legislation before the house today, is the state heritage listed Waite gatehouse located on the corner of Cross Road and Fullarton Road in Urrbrae. I am sure by now most are aware of the story of the gatehouse, and if they are not it means they have not been listening to the contributions in this house. The building, which has been on the State Heritage Register since 1982, was under threat of being flattened to make way for the Cross Road-Fullarton Road intersection upgrade that, in time, if there is not a change of tack, will see increased freight traffic down Cross Road.

During the lengthy and intricate process of saving the gatehouse, led by so many members of the community, I and others came to the conclusion that the state heritage listing in and of itself was not enough to protect the gatehouse from bulldozers, road engineers and developers. In fact, maybe the only thing that would have saved the Waite Gatehouse from destruction was the member for Florey standing in front of the bulldozer at the time to ensure that it was not flattened. It is clear that being on the State Heritage Register is not enough to protect a building from demolition and loss of state heritage protection.

It was announced that the gatehouse will be saved, and I thank many in the government for working together with the community to ensure that. The building will be relocated, and its state heritage listing has not been enough to protect it from the powers that be. Indeed, there are still many concerns around the tender process, including details about how the building will be moved and rebuilt, the inability for the project to adopt new technology, such as those proposed by Mammoth Movers to move the gatehouse as a whole, guarantees of rebuilding like for like and a guarantee to preserve that heritage status. All of this is lacking at the moment and needs further clarity. All components of the protection of the gatehouse require more scrutiny. The processes are of concern to many in the community.

The legislation before the house will create a much-needed emphasis on preservation of both natural and built heritage throughout South Australia. Unfortunately, the gatehouse is not alone in the protection of its future. Currently, other well-known places, such as the Newmarket Hotel, are under threat as well as several lesser known places such as the Prospect Horse Tram Barn and the 1840 state heritage listed houses in Hahndorf. With the introduction of the new Planning and Design Code and the current attack on heritage throughout our state, I believe our community assets need an extra layer of protection. This is why I have introduced the Heritage Places (Protection of Heritage Places) Amendment Bill 2021.

This proposed legislation, an amendment to the Heritage Places Act 1993 which inserts a new part 4A, if supported by the parliament, will require both houses of parliament to approve any reduction of heritage significance or destruction, either partially or wholly, to any place listed on the State Heritage Register. The legislation carries a maximum penalty of $120,000 for anyone found guilty of the offence. We need this to provide stronger protection to spaces of heritage significance, and this bill seeks to legislate these measures.

Think about the significant contribution other state heritage-listed buildings provide to our state, whether that be the Thebby Theatre, the Adelaide Oval scoreboard, Her Majesty's Theatre, the Town Hall, Barr Smith Library, Edmund Wright House, just to name a few. Personally, any destruction or reduction to any of these buildings or any space of heritage listing should be of great concern to all of us. This warrants both houses of parliament, in my view, to consider and approve these decisions.

I would like to thank Deborah Morgan, chair of the National Trust of South Australia, and Emeritus Professor Warren Jones AO, convener of Protect our Heritage Alliance, for their contribution, input and support of this draft legislation, as well as the Mitcham Historical Society. If this legislation passes the parliament, as David Bevan said on radio this morning, finally, being on the heritage list will mean something. We must treat this seriously and enshrine these places in our history, or who knows the fate of our built environments for future generations? I commend this bill to the house.