Waite gatehouse grieve

4 February 2021

Mr DULUK ( Waite ) ( 15:35 ): This afternoon, I rise to talk about the Waite gatehouse (believe it or not), built in 1890 and heritage listed in 1982, about the same time as the historic Edinburgh Hotel, also in Mitcham. It is a 130-year-old state heritage listed building. It is located at the corner of Cross Road and Fullarton Road. For those who do not know, there were about a thousand people there last Sunday on that corner protesting its slated demise, but hopefully not. It is under threat due to the planned intersection upgrade.

The Waite Arboretum itself is such a significant collection of trees for the people of South Australia and for the university. I was going for a run at the arboretum after parliament only yesterday to look at the magnificent trees and consider its environmental and research benefit to the university and to the people of South Australia. Most importantly, the building, the gatehouse, and the land that is the arboretum was gifted to the people of South Australia as part of the Peter Waite bequest, the single biggest bequest from an individual in the history of our state.

There are two essential elements in the Peter Waite Trust deed of 1914, and that is that the university hold the designated section of eastern land for the purpose of teaching and studying branches of learning associated with agriculture and husbandry, and the university hold the remaining western section upon trust to preserve it in perpetuity as a park or garden for the recreation and enjoyment of the public. Waite's legacy to the people of South Australia is not to become a slip lane. That is not to say that the intersection of Fullarton Road and Cross Road does not need to be upgraded; in fact, the whole Mitcham Hills corridor needs to be upgraded.

It is really good to see the government investing in that corridor, starting with the Blackwood roundabout, which I have been advocating for over many years as the member for that community. We are seeing works happening at the James Road-Old Belair Road intersection and at Fullarton Road-Cross Road, the Springbank intersection and for the Glen Osmond Road-Fullarton Road upgrade. These are all important initiatives. They are good funding initiatives from the government, both federal and state, on behalf of the people of South Australia.

But what is important to me and my community is heritage and preserving Peter Waite's legacy. If the gatehouse is demolished, it will be the first state heritage listed building to be demolished. It will set a negative precedent for heritage, environment, and I think future developments as well. In my view, if the government starts to demolish state heritage-listed buildings, what precedent does not set for the private sector to follow? I ask: what is our favourite historic structure in South Australia on the list? Is it the Thebby Theatre, the Adelaide Oval scoreboard, Her Majesty's Theatre, the town hall or the Barr Smith Library? That was certainly a favourite place of mine to do some reading whilst I was at university.

In my electorate, I asked what else would become at risk of demolition if the gatehouse was demolished. Would it be Old Government House in Belair National Park; the manure pits at Brownhill Creek, the Wittunga Botanic Gardens, Scotch College main house, beautiful Carrick Hill, Belair Railway Station and Mitcham Railway Station, Eynsbery House, Coreega House, Sleeps Hill Tunnel at Eden Hills, the Murray and Sons biscuit factory on Coromandel Parade, Blackwood; the former home for the inebriates, which is now on the site of St Johns Grammar School; Nunyara Conference Centre; at Urrbrae High, the former headmasters residence; and Horners Bridge in Coromondel Valley.

They are all state heritage listed buildings, on the stage heritage list, in my community.

In and of themselves they are buildings. They were built many, many years ago, and they are used today. They are state-heritage listed facilities and buildings and they mean something, and if we allow the Gatehouse to be demolished as opposed to being moved as part of this road upgrade, I think that we are setting a very dangerous precedent for all these state-heritage listed buildings in my community and across South Australia.

It is so important that we preserve heritage and protect the environment. Sir, we now have had two rallies to save the Gatehouse. We have had over 1,000 attendees at the weekend's rally. We had George Morgan, the great-grandson of Peter Waite, address us, as well as Professor Norman Etherington, a retired Adelaide Uni professor of history and the former head of the National Trust. Dr Jennifer Gardner OAM, on behalf of the interim vice-chancellor of the Adelaide University spoke about the importance of the university's position with regard to the saving the Gatehouse.

We know we can move the Gatehouse as a result of the mire of evidence presented at the Public Works Committee. It is feasible. We know that the money is there. I urge the government to work with the university, to work with the community, to save the Waite Gatehouse.