Michelle Lensink

Local Government (Road Closures-1934 Act) Amendment Bill

This speech is in relation to the Local Government (Road Closures-1934 Act) Amendment Bill.

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 28 November 2012.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (17:30): I rise to make some remarks in relation to this bill, which is rather euphemistically referring to local government road closures when, in fact, it should be called the 'Barton Terrace West Bill'. It has had quite a history and some of the deeper history, if I can refer to it as that, is that there was a masterplan for the area with the construction of the ring route and Park Terrace, which was to bypass the city and North Adelaide, and so the road closed to most traffic (except buses) in 1987. All stakeholders agreed including the relevant councils—Adelaide City Council, Hindmarsh council (now Charles Sturt), and Prospect—and also the highways department of the state government agreed. The traffic routes for this area are now well established.

Residents and the local school, local hospital, churches and other services have lived in these circumstances for the last 23 years without having to worry about the dangers of increased traffic from people trying to cut through to the city or North Adelaide. The member for Croydon has been raving on about this issue for decades—indeed, since he was first elected to parliament in 1989. From opposition, the member for Croydon had promised it would be the first thing an incoming government would introduce.

The Hon. R.I. Lucas: What happened then?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Well, let me tell you, Mr Lucas. A lady by the name of Dr Jane Lomax-Smith won the seat for Labor in 2002 and Labor formed government. Not once during the first eight years of Labor's rule did the member for Croydon introduce a bill. He claims to have taken two cabinet submissions in that time, which indicates that some of his Labor colleagues probably were not so dumb as to support this proposal. His initial principle, as he puts it, is that one council cannot impose road closures upon another. However, from this original so-called principle to remove the provisions of section 359 of the Local Government Act, the current bill is now limited to only one road—Barton Terrace West—so that this member can continue to victimise the people of North Adelaide for his own ends.

The member for Croydon now claims that there will faster access for people in the western suburbs to Calvary Hospital, Mary Potter Hospice, St Dominic's Priory College and St Laurence's church, but is this actually the case? We do not actually know and we cannot know because there has been no traffic assessment.

In more recent years a bill was introduced by the member for Croydon on 10 November 2011. The member for Croydon claims that 'unanimously the Labor Party supports this bill'. Does it really, or did the Labor caucus agree so that he could focus on attacking people outside his own party and lay off his own members—for instance, the current Attorney-General and the member for Hartley?

In his second reading speech, the member for Croydon portrays the people of North Adelaide as privileged snobs who want to keep Barton Terrace closed for personal use, that they wish to exclude people who live on the other side of the Parklands from their turf. This is the sort of rhetoric contained in many of the member for Croydon's speeches. It is confected class warfare and it is a childish stunt when there is no class warfare taking place. The member for Croydon cites the 3,500 new residents of the Bowden Urban Village, yet has produced no evidence through the masterplan process of future demand, requiring access to North Adelaide via this road. In this context he has put the question that 'in the next few years the city council will find it increasingly difficult to corral us'.

On that definition of 'corral', which is to hold in or pen in people, I do wonder how it is possible to hold in residents who are located within spitting distance of a dual carriageway ring route, that is, Park Terrace, with very ready access to Port Road and West Terrace. Through the Budget and Finance Committee on 14 November 2011 it was confirmed by witnesses that Park Terrace is classified as a major road.

In other contributions the member for Croydon really lets fly. He sics it to the former Labor attorney-general in this place, the Hon. Chris Sumner. He draws some bizarre and deeply offensive comparison between the member for Adelaide and the member for Dobell in another place, which demonstrates both his desperation in personally attacking anyone who disagrees with him. Some might question whether he is close to the edge of reality.

A number of members were clearly and properly upset with the member for Croydon's portrayal of the member for Adelaide: everyone who knows the member for Adelaide, Rachel Sanderson, knows she is sincere, conscientious to a fault, diligent and genuinely concerned for the welfare of her constituents. I believe the member for Croydon just cannot handle the fact that a first-term Liberal MP is miles ahead of him on this issue: she knows the will of the majority in her community and, meanwhile, he continues to flail about in the twilight of his career like a dying spider, trying to drag everyone else into his poisoned web.

The actions of the member for Croydon are to embark on a letterboxing campaign of various electorates not his own, including parts of Adelaide and Colton. He also claims to have letterboxed West Beach and the City of Charles Sturt and may venture into the Premier's seat of Cheltenham and also Lee. Is this really the most pressing issue facing people in the western suburbs of Adelaide? Really? Perhaps electricity prices, the downgrading of services at The QEH, unreliable public transport, and the St Clair land swap (perhaps we won't go to that one).

An examination of a state electoral boundary map, which includes council boundaries, demonstrates what the member for Croydon's occult intention actually may be: campaigning within the boundaries of the City of Charles Sturt. He is either setting up himself (or one of his cronies) to have a crack at the very popular Mayor of Charles Sturt, Ms Kirsten Alexander. I note that Today Tonight in a piece late last year believed that the member for Croydon maybe ineligible himself for mayoralty of the City of Charles Sturt because, as they put it, 'he is shacked up in Golden Grove'.

The personal vitriol directed by the member for Croydon towards Her Worship Kirsten Alexander is breathtaking. Ms Alexander strikes me as exactly the sort of person we need in local government: someone with a high level of personal integrity, considered in her opinions and well educated. She won the 2010 mayoral election in a landslide, which was a direct reflection of what the community in that area felt about the way the previous council had made decisions, heavily influenced by the Labor Party, especially the St Clair land swap.

The member for Adelaide has sought the opinions of her local residents, particularly those who will be affected in Ovingham and North Adelaide. She does her homework. She has doorknocked over 600 homes and nearly 80 per cent wanted the current situation retained. She has looked into the impact in Ovingham, which would result in additional congestion in Hawker Street. She has studied the only report commissioned by the Adelaide City Council, I might add, into the impacts of reopening the road, which is the 1999 Murray F. Young & Associates report. This report costed the re-engineering of one intersection alone at $1 million.

The member for Adelaide has studied a report produced by a PhD student at the University of SA, who simulated traffic during peak hour, which showed that there would be considerable congestion and would require the need to re-engineer several intersections. She has studied traffic surveys from 2002, which support the continued closure. She has dug out traffic accident data for Barton Terrace, Hill Street and Mills Terrace in North Adelaide, which show that in the year prior to the closure 77 accidents took place, many of which involved serious injury and hospitalisations, compared with 2009, when just three accidents took place.

The member for Adelaide has also tallied the statistics of the member for Croydon's obsession: 563 mentions of Barton Terrace West in parliament, 26 speeches, five hours of House of Assembly debate, and yet the member for Croydon has not offered one piece of evidence to support the reopening. When the member for Bragg in her capacity as transport spokesperson sought a briefing from the transport department, it was refused on the grounds that this bill is not a government bill, yet somehow the government chose to progress this bill in the House of Assembly during government time.

So, we are still none the wiser about what Labor's official position is. The committee stage of the debate in the House of Assembly is revealing. By his own admission, the member for Croydon:

1.Has not had a formal traffic assessment from the Department of Transport, Planning and Infrastructure.

2.Has not had the proposal costed by the Department of Transport, Planning and Infrastructure.

3.Could not say how much the cost would be, except that it would have to be borne by the Adelaide City Council.

4.Has not had any discussions with the Adelaide City Council, nor has he written to them to advise of his intentions. However, a copy of a letter received by the opposition from the Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood, clearly indicates that council remains opposed to the bill, a fact which the member for Croydon omitted during debate.

5.Admits that the City of Charles Sturt did not support the issue when put to a vote, (although he claims that if a vote were taken now they would support it) and he does not have any correspondence from the council to advise that they do support the bill.

6.Has not formally consulted on this bill with the Calvary Hospital and the Mary Potter Hospice, although he says that he does not need to because they have always supported it in the past.

7.Admit that the Local Government Association of SA is not a proponent of his bill (it is in fact neutral) and has opposed previous versions as they applied to all roads in similar situations.

8.Has he consulted the people who will be most affected, that is the people who live in North Adelaide? No, although he does claim to have surveyed people in Ovingham.

These admissions defy any standard test of due diligence prior to introducing legislation. Furthermore, the original so-called error which the member for Croydon seeks to correct is challenged by the former attorney-general and North Adelaide resident, the Hon. Chris Sumner.

I would like to quote from a document that he supplied to the member for Bragg, Vickie Chapman. It has a covering letter dated 15 January 2012. He has done a submission which is some seven pages and includes some historical documents—they were clearly typed on a typewriter, so I would assume they were done in the 1980s—and a number of maps. On the first page, under the item, 'Background (Reference ACC Operations Committee 16/8/99 Item No. 5.7)', it states:

Prior to 1981 the Adelaide City Council (ACC) sought various means of reducing the traffic flow in Barton Terrace West (and the then named Mildred Road) which was one of the main routes for traffic crossing east/west around the north of the city and using the North Adelaide railway crossing prior to its closure and the construction of the Park Terrace railway bridge.

At the request of the Minister for Transport the ACC deferred action until the report of the North West Ring Route Working Party (Working Party) was available.

The Working Party was convened in November 1981 by the Commissioner of Highways to examine short and long term proposals to provide for the movement of traffic from Main North Road around the north west sector of the City of Adelaide to links with Port Road and other roads further west.

The Working Party contained representatives of the ACC, Hindmarsh and Prospect Councils and Highways Department and considered both local and overall road network needs. It consulted widely with residents.

The Working Party produced a document for consultation with affected residents in the North Adelaide, Prospect and Hindmarsh Council areas—'North West Ring Route' (Attachment A). The Concept Plan upon which comment was sought included the closure of Barton Road following the construction of the Park Terrace bridge over the railway line in lieu of the North Adelaide crossing. The document concluded—'Comments should be forwarded to your local council. Councils will co-ordinate responses and make recommendations through the Working Party.'

The Working Party reported in January 1984 and recommended the closure of Barton Terrace-Mildred Road to all traffic except buses (Attachment B).

In 1986 the ACC approved the 'bus only' layout and following receipt of approval from the Road Safety Division and Commissioner for Highways completed construction work leading to the opening of the bus only link on 11 January 1988.Residents of North Adelaide were advised (Attachment C).

After the closure, objections were raised by some North Adelaide residents and some other road users. Following the closure of the North Adelaide railway crossing and the opening of the Park Terrace (ring route) railway overpass the ACC considered a report on the impact of traffic in North Adelaide in September 1992. The ACC says that traffic surveys in North Adelaide demonstrated that the Barton Road closure had been effective in increasing road safety and residential amenity. In 1993 the ACC took the necessary decisions to formalise the closure and create the bus only link using s 359 of the Local Government Act.

While there is some legitimate debate about whether this was the appropriate legislative mechanism to effect the closure (rather than the Roads (Opening and Closing) Act 1991) this provision has been legally use by other Councils in a large number of cases throughout the State. In the situation of Barton Road where there was extensive consultation and agreement of relevant authorities the rule of law and principle of legality should be adhered to. Any legislation to change the effect of s 359 of the Local Government Act should not be retrospective.

In 1996 the Crown Solicitor confirmed that the closure and signage was legal.

You will be pleased to know that I am not going to read all seven pages but I would just like to read the headings into the record. The key points are:

1.Barton Road was not closed by the unilateral action of the Adelaide City Council.

2.The amendment operates in a retrospective manner to defeat existing rights lawfully established.

3.Mr Atkinson's assertions about the consequences of the closure which he has made continually since 1993 are misleading and wrong.

4.The illegitimate approach taken by Mr Atkinson to other issues affecting the governance of the City of Adelaide and its residents.

5.Personal attacks.

6.Implications for good governance.

7.Summary.

The conclusion is that there was nothing illegal about what the Adelaide City Council did.

I have viewed correspondence from people who live in North Adelaide and who had moved into the area on the basis of what they believed to be a peaceful place, with major routes taking traffic through O'Connell Street and some on Jeffcott Street. For this issue to be raised yet again is very unsettling for them, and it is unfair for the member for Croydon to play his petty class games with people's daily lives.

The proposal is also contrary to contemporary trends where planners are trying to create areas which provide safer places for cyclists and pedestrians. Re-opening Barton Terrace West will disadvantage school children and elderly people who currently use these streets. Furthermore, the at Adelaide Oval redevelopment and the eventual (whenever it happens) Le Cornu development will already place extra stress on the residential areas of North Adelaide. One resident has put their point of view in the following way:

The Member for Croydon's ongoing bid to re-open Barton Road is motivated by a very dated notion of class, elitism and class war and ignores contemporary rights and notions on the importance of social amenity, environment, city living, and the basic rights of people over noise pollution and motor vehicles.

Notwithstanding the current inappropriateness of his argument, the proposal is seriously flawed. North Adelaide is primarily a residential area with a very mixed social profile. It has a greater concentration of local and overseas students, the elderly and flat/unit dwellers than any other suburb. The Helping Hand Centre for the aged, the University colleges and student accommodation, the social refuge on Hill Street, the Calvary Hospital and Hospice, the Women's and Children's Hospital, the day students at St Dominic's and North Adelaide Primary School, all house and represent people from the broadest of social walks. This disparate social mix is reflected in a very marginal electorate voting profile compared to the electorates to the East.

The implications of opening the park lands bus lane to mass traffic have not been properly considered. While Hill Street traffic at midday can be mild, morning peak hour during school term and the afternoon rush can be extremely busy, The stream of early morning busses, the large numbers of parents arriving at St Dominic's School (and conducting undisciplined U-turns in Hill Street), the Memorial Hospital visitors, many elderly, attempting to reverse position from parallel parks outside Calvary and the Hospice, interspersed with the bike riders make Hill Street challenging and risky...The addition of significant numbers of transiting vehicles will further frustrate the peak traffic and force detours, mainly along Childers Street. As crossing the four lanes of Jeffcott Street from Childers Street is risky at the best of times, Atkinson's proposal will certainly lead to a requirement for traffic lights at the Childers/Jeffcott and very possibly at the Buxton/Jeffcott intersections.

This will of course significantly slow down traffic on the main arterial road through North Adelaide or Jeffcott Street to the city. The proposed establishment of lights at the Mills/Barton West intersection will also frustrate the many busses to and from the West with their full load during peak times adding minutes to their journey to and from the City. Those that choose to persevere along the full length of Hill then Ward Streets in peak hours will be confronted by traffic lights and the single lane for crossing and turning into Jeffcott Street, and banking up to several traffic light cycles before a crossing is achieved. It will ultimately be necessary to reduce the current bias towards Jeffcott Street. Council may find it necessary to implement a 40kph speed limit to 'pacify' the traffic as has been done in Mr.Atkinson's own electorate where community rights and amenity are seemingly more important.

Greater numbers of motor vehicles turning off Park Terrace into Barton Road will also affect the life cycle of traffic lights on the Park Terrace/Memorial Drive intersection further frustrating traffic flows on the arterial ring route.

It should also be noted that previous attempts at opening the bus-way to major traffic flows have been steadfastly opposed by SA Police.

The City of Adelaide is striving to increase its residential population and mix, is encouraging people to commute on bikes on new and somewhat expensive bike lanes rather than drive cars and publicly advocates social amenity, human and family values and noise and emissions reduction. This proposal is contrary to all good social planning and logic. To spend good public money to achieve a net negative social outcome makes little community sense.

The proposal is clearly an attempt to whip up populist support in the Member for Croydon's electorate and does not even superficially consider the unintended traffic and social consequences.

A rather observant constituent! Another person writes:

We already have a lot of traffic on these roads at various times during the day, particularly in the morning. Opportunistic roadusers will 'rat-run' from Hill Street onto the various roads leading to Jeffcott Street causing dangers to all road users.

Contrary to what Mr. Atkinson likes to expound, due to his ongoing obsession with this matter, this area is a destination for a lot of people who do not reside in the area, but who benefit from a safe access to it's amenities which include—

and schools, the Calvary Hospital, the Helping Hand Centre, the North Adelaide Golf Course and the Aquatic Centre are all referenced.

ACC have spent time and money trying to promote the use of free bicycles and a free bus service to stop traffic congestion in the area. Older residents remember the 'mayhem' that existed when the various roads between Jeffcott Street and Hill Street were congested, not to mention the many accidents that ensued. Lets not forget that careful planning and consultation between the various Councils in previous years, have resulted in the decision to restrict access to Barton Terrace to busses only. If this decision in the past was seen as the best solution in ensuring the safety and ease of traffic for all, how can one man think he has a better solution?

I would also like to point out that I am a regular visitor to Elizabeth Street Cafe and Let Them Eat Vegetarian Cafe in Elizabeth Street, Croydon (both very popular with visitors from all over Adelaide, much to the pride of the ever-growing amount of enterprising traders in the area), where Mr. Atkinson resides.

He no longer does, apparently.

There are quite a few road closures requiring the need to divert from the most direct route to access Elizabeth Street. I see these diversions, not as a deterrent, but as minor inconvenience. I make the assumption that a careful...consultation between various stakeholders—residents, road users, traders and council. Similar examples can be found all over Adelaide where residents are safeguarded against the dangers of heavy traffic...[in] Rose Park (restricted access from Fullarton Rd), Prospect, Unley, Hyde Park etc.

I believe that Mr. Atkinson's mission is in fact discriminatory in it's intent. His insistence that the residents in North Adelaide are elitist is derogatory and insulting. We are, as taxpayers and ratepayers, entitled to the same consideration as any other citizen.

I concur with those remarks. I will be opposing the second reading of this bill, as will the Liberal Party, and we hope that this is the end of this nonsense matter.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. G.A. Kandelaars.

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