Michelle Lensink

Le Cornu Site

Remarks from the Liberal Party - Le Cornu Site.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I rise to place some remarks from the Liberal Party on
the record in relation to this motion, which was moved by the Hon. Mr Parnell on 5 July. I have read
his contribution; I think it made sense—well, let me start that again.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I was agreeing with a lot of his comments up until the point at
which the Hon. Mr Ridgway interjects, which is no reflection on the interjection, it is just that up until
then the Hon. Mr Parnell had been talking about the ridiculous and embarrassing history of the
Le Cornu site at O'Connell Street, North Adelaide, which we hope is not emblematic of South
Australia's situation, but I think we all collectively feel a sense of embarrassment that you can go to
the very vibrant O'Connell Street and there is a vacant site that has been in that state for some
25 years.

I would also like to commend, for her persistence on this matter, Councillor Anne Moran.
When I was first elected as a member to this place in a casual vacancy to fulfil the term of the Hon.
Diana Laidlaw, I did seek her counsel on this particular matter. She had explained to me that council
had actually approved a number of developments at this site and then subsequently the owners of
the site, for whatever reason, had decided not to proceed with it, and I think that has been part of the
frustration. There has also been major development status for that site provided by the government
to enable the developers to get started, and still that has not enabled the developer or the property
owner of the time to get something happening at that site.

It is, I think, somewhat beyond comprehension. North Adelaide is a fantastic part of our city.
It is a very vibrant area and certainly would fall into the category of location, location, location prime
real estate. So, certainly the first point in Mr Parnell's motion the Liberal Party agrees to. The second
part we do not. For that reason, we will be supporting the government's amendment to the motion,
without which we would not be supporting this motion.

Just to skip over a bit of the background again, the site has been vacant since 1989 and was
purchased by the Makris Group in 2001 for some estimated $7 million. The Adelaide City Council
has also put in a bid for the land and has made several failed attempts to lease the site from the
Makris Group in order to turn it into a community space, which I think is a pretty sensible suggestion.
The Makris Group last failed to meet the Development Assessment Commission's extended deadline
for construction to substantially commence by June 2017, so here we are again.

The Makris Group has withdrawn an application to extend its development approval for a
previous proposal as it explores 'a more viable development solution for the site'. I understand that
there is no further extension on the June 2017 deadline. Other Adelaide City Council public space
proposals have involved pulling the fences down, planting grass, seating and some parking for local
businesses. However, they have not advocated for the state government to enforce this option on
the owner.

I understand that Mr Parnell has been delving through the statute records and has discovered
some act that he believes could force public acquisition; however, we in the Liberal Party think that
this is a fairly unusual and dangerous precedent, notwithstanding that I think the community would
dearly love for that site to be able to be activated for community benefit, and therefore that would set
the sort of precedent that is potentially pretty dangerous and is probably contrary to a lot of the
principles that many people hold dear about what people can and cannot do with properties that they
own.

For those reasons, as I stated at the outset, we will be supporting the government's
amendment to the motion, and if that is not successful then we would not be supporting the motion,
but if it is successful then we will.

 

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