Waite trust (vesting of land) bill

Mr DULUK (Waite) (12:02): I rise to speak on the Waite Trust (Vesting of Land) Bill 2020. As the member for Waite, this bill does indeed hold significance for my constituents and the community we live in, its heritage and the legacy of Peter Waite.

Before addressing the Bill itself, I wish to pass on my sympathies and those of the electorate to the family of Mrs Marion Waite Wells, who passed away last week at the age of 94. Mrs Marion Waite Wells was the great-granddaughter of Peter and Matilda Waite. She was also the foundation president of the Friends of Urrbrae House and a strong supporter of her local community. We have lost a pillar of our community, and again I extend my sympathies to her family.

As we know, the purpose of bill is to allow the Minister for Education to vest part of the land, which is subject to the terms of the Peter Waite Trust, in the Commissioner of Highways to allow for construction of the upgrade to the Fullarton Road-Cross Road intersection. The land is currently owned by the Crown in the trust and, given the Crown cannot compulsorily acquire its own land, the bill is needed to free that land from the trust. The land in question is part of the Urrbrae Agricultural High School campus.

This land forms part of the proud legacy of Peter Waite, who, on arriving from Scotland in 1859, proceeded to establish himself as a property manager and pastoralist. He worked closely with Thomas Elder and was a strong advocate for agricultural education. His passion for improving South Australia's agricultural standing led him to gifting 45 hectares to the state government to establish an agricultural high school. At the time he said:

I have been much influenced by the wonderful work our agriculturalists and pastoralists have accomplished hitherto in face of the very great odds they have had to meet. With comparatively little scientific training they have placed our wheat, wool and fruits in the highest estimation of the world.

Our agricultural machinery has been found good enough even for the Americans to copy; and our farming methods have been accepted by other states as the most up to date and practical for Australian conditions. We have now reached a point where it behoves us to call science to our aid to a greater extent than hitherto has been done, otherwise we cannot hope to keep in the forefront.

Since the time of those words of Peter Waite, Urrbrae Agricultural High School, and the Waite campus that is now part of the Adelaide University, has certainly done that: it has kept up with the science to aid the betterment of the agricultural sectors.

Peter Waite also gifted many hectares of land to the University of Adelaide to be used for agricultural studies and as a public park. His legacy continues today with the great work happening at Urrbrae Agricultural High School and at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute as part of the University of Adelaide.

Heritage and local history are of great importance to me and to many of my constituents, and undoubtedly to members here who represent the surrounding electorates. The seat of Waite is home to many heritage buildings and sites, including the Urrbrae House historic precinct and the Waite gatehouse lodge. Preserving our heritage buildings and character suburbs adds to the charm of our communities, tells the history of our neighbourhood and benefits future generations.

As part of the upgrade to the Fullarton Road-Cross Road intersection, I believe the preservation of Peter Waite's legacy of historic trees and the Waite gatehouse is very important. Heritage preservation was identified as a key concern of local residents who provided feedback to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure as part of its consultation on the project. I thank the department for seeking a second round of consultation in recent months from local residents on this very issue, after, I think, the department realised that the preservation of the gatehouse and the historic trees, as part of the Waite Arboretum, was of great concern to many who will be impacted by this proposed development.

Those who responded to DPTI's community consultation expressed their apprehension about the impact of the Waite gatehouse, the significant trees, Peter Waite's legacy and the heritage value of the Waite campus. Many local residents around Netherby and Urrbrae reminded me of the role they took in ensuring, in the 1990s, that the Netherby Kindergarten was not carved out of the Waite campus but that it sit on its current site today.

I have been in constant liaison with my community regarding the proposed upgrade, as well as potential impacts to the state heritage listed Waite gatehouse and the avenue of trees on the eastern side of Fullarton Road. I have also met with Dr Wayne Hervey from Friends of Waite Arboretum to understand their views on the proposed development. I was pleased to hear, as I mentioned before, that the department has recognised community concern regarding the future of the gatehouse and is conducting further investigations to see what design mechanisms can be met and if the Waite gatehouse can be preserved as part of this development.

It is also encouraging to hear that the department is working with Heritage SA, the University of Adelaide and other stakeholders on this project. As planning progresses, I implore the government to listen to the many South Australians who want to preserve these key heritage pieces, not just in my electorate but across our whole state. Another key concern of local residents is the impact of those living along the two roads in question, the devaluating of land, the loss of frontage and the acquisition of land for the project.

Another key concern about the project—and something we must consider in progressing this important project—is around significant trees. There are many in my electorate who have taken part in the department's feedback who have said the same. I thank local resident Mrs Joanna Wells for her advocacy of the strong protection of the significant trees in the arboretum as part of this project. She has certainly been going around the electorate, suburbs around Waite, Kingswood and Mitcham, fighting for the trees at the arboretum, which is fantastic.

Since 1928, the Waite Arboretum has been a place of tranquil beauty and botanical treasures. It comprises 27 hectares and 2,500 specimens from around the world, growing on annual rainfall of 618 millimetres without supplementary watering after establishment. I did not know until recently, when I was talking to Dr Jennifer Gardner, that indeed the only time when the trees in the arboretum are watered outside of rainfall is when they are initially planted. After that, they survive on what nature provides. That is why the arboretum is such an important ecosystem, not only in and of itself in its location but in what it gives back to science and those who are interested in all things botanical.

The values of the trees in the arboretum are quite incredible. A 2017 report by Dr Jennifer Gardner, Marian McDuie and Erica Boyle, entitled An i-Tree Ecosystem Analysis, found the structural value of the surveyed trees (about 50 per cent of the Waite Arboretum collection) to be about $13 million. Carbon storage of 1,167 tonnes, equivalent to annual carbon emissions from 910 vehicles or 373 single-family homes, is captured in the arboretum. Air pollution removal is 1.2 tonnes per year, equivalent to annual emissions from 160 vehicles or 36 family homes. Carbon sequestration is 34.3 tonnes and oxygen production is 91.5 tonnes. These are just some of the environmental benefits that are captured by those trees that sit on the corner of Fullarton Road and Cross Road.

These significant trees have been around for almost 100 years. They add so much to the local environment, and to have them torn down unnecessarily and without due consideration as part of this project I believe would be a huge loss. Once again, I ask the government to take these valid concerns into account as they move forward on this project.

The Fullarton Road-Cross Road intersection is a vital part of the daily commute for many residents in my electorate and surrounding electorates and, indeed, those coming down from the Adelaide Hills. For many people living in Waite, this intersection is one of the only intersections that they travel through to get to the city. About 60,000 vehicles go through the intersection each day, and with it being the site of a number of horrific crashes we can understand the need to ensure that this intersection facilitates efficient and safe traffic flows.

There is also a strong desire from my constituents and many others in the Adelaide Hills that we seek to remove heavy freight vehicles from the South Eastern Freeway, Cross Road and other suburban roads. Once again, I remain disappointed at the KPMG report released not long ago into freight movements across South Australia and believe that in not pursuing alternative freight options around the back of the Adelaide Hills or through the south we are missing out on great opportunities to undertake road freight reform in South Australia.

One of my constituents, Dr Ken Moxham, summed up this issue well when he was talking about freight movements and alternative plans. In this case, he was referring to GlobeLink and he said:

…GlobeLink offered a viable plan to get the freight trucks off of suburban roads— including Cross Road— roads [that voters] use to go to work, to take their children to school, and to shop. Getting freight road transport away from normal suburban roads and off the freeway is what most people including myself found attractive in the GlobeLink idea and I want to encourage you—as in me— to do all in your power to commence activities to achieve this goal.

Whilst that disappointment remains, it is good to see that alternative freight routes are still on the agenda. The RAA released a report to that extent last week. Residents of the Adelaide Hills, Mitcham Hills and Urrbrae area would completely agree with the RAA's assessment that 'major freight routes along busy urban corridors should be avoided wherever possible'. For many in my electorate, this includes Cross Road.

The RAA's advocacy for an alternative freight route, such as the route via Truro, to be used by higher productivity vehicles is one that would receive a lot of support from commuters, including my constituents who regularly use the South Eastern Freeway, Cross Road and Portrush Road. Once again, I ask the state government to work with industry, work with the federal government, and indeed work with the community, to develop alternative road freight routes for the benefit of my constituents and all South Australians.

In conclusion, I am supportive of the upgrade to the Fullarton Road-Cross Road intersection. Safety is so important and too often we see road fatalities in our community. Of course, this intersection was subject to an horrific motor vehicle accident just some months ago. At the same time, we can get transport right, we can get the commute right, we can get traffic flow right, but we can also look after and protect heritage trees at the same time. I believe in this proposed development we can do both: we can look after our environment and protect heritage, and save it for future generations, and we can look after the motorists of South Australia, which is so important.