Michelle Lensink

Beechwood Garden

A speech regarding a motion which the Liberal Party Supports that would provide protection to the Beechwood Garden.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I will speak briefly to this motion, which the Liberal Party broadly supports. I did want the chamber to adjourn this motion because of the issue of consultation that has been raised by other members. I am pleased to be able to speak to this motion, because I am quite familiar with the Beechwood heritage garden. It is near the house where I grew up and my primary school, so I have been there and understand the value of the garden. I support the position of the member for Heysen (Hon. Isobel Redmond) whose ultimate aim in this has been the preservation of this unique historic garden. I think that a number of members in this place accept the reality that the major issue here is the expense involved in preserving the garden to ensure that as an asset it is preserved. I note the position of the board of the Botanic Gardens, which has stated that the garden is not its core business. However, I trust that, whilst the garden has been in its care, it has done the right thing by the garden and sought to maintain it. Also, under the current arrangement, apart from the designated days in spring and autumn when the garden is open to the public, the owner of the house effective¬ly has a taxpayer-maintained garden. So, in many ways, this motion makes a lot of sense.

I will not go through all the details but, if honourable members wish to have a thorough understanding of the background and history of the garden, I refer them to the member for Heysen's speech of 20 July. I also note that, as the local member, she sought to have this issue raised within her electorate by publishing notice of it in her newsletter. The government stated that it had consulted with the local federal member, the Hon. Alexander Downer, obviously the local member (the shadow minister for the environment) and the Adelaide Hills Council, in which area this garden exists. I also note that at its meeting of 6 July the Adelaide Hills Council carried a motion, which stated:

That a communication be sent to the Premier, Minister for Environment, Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Environment and Leader of the Democrats expressing Council's concern about the proposed sale or aspects of the sale of Beechwood Gardens and the removal of these Gardens from public ownership.

In that communication, Council requests:

 • A guarantee in writing that the heritage values of the garden will be protected/ensured in perpetuity

 • That Parliament delay considering the proposal until proper community consultation has been undertaken

 • If the property is sold, and prior to final settlement, the three titles (one for the house and two for the gardens) be amalgamated into one title.

I read that motion into Hansard for the record, and repeat that that motion was carried on 6 July, which was not very many weeks ago. I note that the Hon. Sandra Kanck referred, I think in good faith, to the new campaign in her comments last night. To be fair to any of the residents in the Adelaide Hills, this ought to be delayed. Whilst the proposal was originally mooted in 1995, I think it is fair to say that it has not really been on the table for some years and many residents would see this as having been raised again, but they may not have not been aware that it was so close to coming to pass. Therefore, in the interests of full consultation, we ought to delay this motion.

I understand that the member for Heysen and our leader in this chamber have sought to speak to the owner of the house, Mr David Rice, but they have been unable to get hold of him in the last couple of days. The major elements of this agreement are set out in the agreement, and I understand that additional protection will be provided through the Heritage (Beechwood Garden) Amendment Bill 2004, which will ensure that the heritage agreement may not be altered without the permission of both houses of parliament.

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