Adelaide Gaol

25 Sep 2007 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Environment and Conservation a question about the Old Adelaide Gaol.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The Liberal Party has been contacted by concerned citizens in relation to the future of the Old Adelaide Gaol. I refer to an email that was received a week ago today, as follows:

I feel it is time to update you on the situation re the future of the old Adelaide Gaol.

The co-ordinator from the Department of Environment and Heritage, John Barrett, was to have his report on the future viability of the gaol completed by the end of August—to date we have not seen this report and an enquiry to him as to what the status of that report is has so far elicited no response.

The $100 000 allocated by Minister Gago in May for immediate remedial work to allow night tours and overnight accommodation to recommence has so far only been used to paint a few yellow lines on supposed tripping hazards. No other work at all has been carried out.

All attempts to get past the staffer in Ms Gago’s office, who is meant to be the liaison between the Department of Environment and Heritage have failed. We believe that the Minister has no idea at all that the work has not commenced.

Once again we are seeking your help in overcoming this impasse.

My questions to the minister are, first—

The Hon. B.V. Finnigan: That was an anonymous email, was it?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The honourable member asks that, but I have been ticked off many times for not naming people. I am not going to name them because you will go and beat them up. My questions are:

1. Has the John Barrett report been completed?

2. What is the status of remedial work?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO(Minister for Environment and Conservation): I thank the honourable member for her question. As outlined in this chamber before, we were made aware of occupational health and safety issues and public liability concerns regarding some uses of the Old Adelaide Gaol. When that was brought to my attention, I asked the Chief Executive Officer of the DEH to investigate those matters and propose a solution to protect visitors to the site, and also to manage public liability in the longer term whilst preserving public access to this most important historical site in Adelaide.

The operating annual budget for the Old Adelaide Gaol is about $139 000. The cost of running the gaol is largely recovered from the revenue generated from its shop and guided tours and suchlike. The gaol was also running overnight stays and I was advised that this, in particular, was a main concern in terms of the health and safety of particular people. The government clearly has a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of the public on that site and, therefore, on the advice of the Chief Executive Officer I approved the cessation of overnight stay arrangements from July 2007. I was advised that there are no significant risks associated with the general tour arrangements and I requested the development of long-term options for the operation and management of the gaol, such as the report that the member alludes to, and I have been advised that these are in progress and that they are near completion.

There is no intention to close the gaol. It is a very important heritage site. I have been informed that the visitation numbers are about 17 000 per annum, so it is obviously of great interest to South Australians and visitors to this area. The South Australian government is committed to preserving our heritage. We have about 2 200 heritage sites in the state, so this is one of many that are legally protected under our Heritage Places Act. The heritage branch of DEH has a budget of about $2.8 million to cover these heritage sites and it is responsible for their administration as well. It does a great deal of very good work with those funds.

Some remediation funds were made available to address certain aspects of the health and safety and liability issues to do with the site. I have not been advised of the progress of that work, but I am happy to pursue that. I understand that the works have commenced and there are a number of immediate safety issues that those funds have been designated to resolve in the first instance.