LOCAL GOVERNMENT (GAWLER PARK LANDS) AMENDMENT BILL

Second Reading 

Adjourned
debate on second reading. 

(Continued
from 18 June 2015.) 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:41 ): At the outset of my
contribution on behalf of Liberal members on the Local Government (Gawler Park
Lands) Amendment Bill currently before this place, I indicate that the
opposition supports the bill and wishes to see it passed expeditiously through
the upper house. The opposition received a briefing from the government on this
bill on 25 March this year. As the advice was that the bill was in fact a
hybrid bill, the select committee process—something I will touch on later in my
contribution—was completed in the other house and no submissions were received.
I commend the honourable members for Goyder and Schubert for their
contributions to that process on behalf of the opposition and certainly I will
talk a bit more about the select committee process later on. 

This bill seeks to discharge a trust established in 1864 to convey
134 acres of parklands surrounding the original historic township of Gawler to
the corporation of the Town of Gawler. For the benefit of the council, the
trust itself was established as a charitable trust for the purposes of
maintaining a public park, parklands and/or public cemetery for the benefit of
the whole community. For those who are not aware of the geography of Gawler,
the majority of this land does abut the riverine area of Gawler and certainly
areas that are in great proximity to both the North Para and South Para rivers
and the point at which they come together to form the Gawler River. 

Now that over a century and a half has passed since the inception
of this original trust, the land covered by the trust has been developed to
include parklands and sports fields but now also includes a number of licences
granted by the council for recreation and community facilities such as
showgrounds, bowling greens, swimming pools, clubhouses and the greyhound
racing track. While these licences have been executed in compliance with the
Local Government Act 1999, there appear to be some inconsistencies between
these activities and the objectives of the century-and-a-half-old charitable
trust which controls them. These inconsistencies have caused difficulties for
the Town of Gawler, and at their behest the government is now seeking through
this bill to discharge the current trust and declare the applicable space as
community land under the Local Government Act 1999. 

It is worth noting that, whilst this bill is a short one, there is
an important provision contained within it that will ensure that no
transactions entered into by the Corporation of the Town of Gawler regarding
the land covered by the trust and prior to the enactment of this bill will be
invalid due to reasons of a breach of the original trust. This will ensure all
current agreements held by the council and executed properly will not be
affected due to past uses that were inconsistent with the charitable trust. 

Finally, the bill amends schedule 8 of the Local Government Act
1999 to classify the area covered by the trust, namely the Gawler Park Lands
and Pioneer Park, as community land and ensures that that classification is
irrevocable. This will ensure the original purpose for the land and the
charitable trust is continued, but grants the Town of Gawler the flexibility to
offer a wider range of leases and licences over the land. It also prevents the
council from selling the land once the trust has been discharged. 

Since the commencement of this process almost three years ago, the
occupants of the roles of chief executive officer and mayor of the Town of
Gawler have changed. To ensure the current council's position remains
steadfast, the member for Goyder, in another place, wrote to the council to
seek its feedback before proceeding with the bill. I thought it would be of
interest to honourable members to place on the record the response the
opposition received from Her Worship the Mayor of the Town of Gawler, Ms Karen
Redman: 

Thank you for your correspondence dated 25 March 2015 relating to the
Local Government ( Gawler Park Lands ) Amendment Bill 2015. The Gawler
Park Lands consist of approximately 130 acres within the township of Gawler.
The parklands were transferred to the C orporation of the T own of Gawler in 1864 on trust
for the purposes of park lands . 

In 2012 the council commenced a rev iew of the management of these
P ark L ands , in particular addressing the complexity of
the histo rical and current use of the P ark Lands and past and current agreements in
place for their use. This resulted in a request from the C ouncil to the S tate G overnment seeking consideration
of the introduction of appropriate legislation. This legislation would dissolve
or modify the trust while ensuring the validity of current leases and providi ng the C ouncil with the power to
continue to effec tively manage the use of these P ark L ands in the future. 

Obviously, this has been quite a lengthy process since the Town of
Gawler identified the issues with the trust in 2012. The council was provided
with a draft bill, in fact the same as we are debating now I understand, on 21
November 2014, quite soon after the most recent local government general
elections. At its meeting on 16 December 2014, the council considered the draft
bill and resolved to support it. I am pleased that the changes sought by the
council are now coming to fruition and I look forward to seeing the continued
community focused use of the parklands that the community of Gawler has seen
for the past 150 years or so. 

I would like to put on record my thanks to the honourable members
for Goyder, Schubert, and Hammond for their contributions on this bill in the
other place and in particular their kind words about a part of South Australia
which is very near and dear to my heart. 

The area that this bill encompasses is at the heart of the
community of Gawler and many activities—sporting, recreational and in the
nature of other community events—take place in that area. Certainly, my own
experience includes having opened the Gawler Show in that area in 1997,
exhibiting and judging sheep in the area, playing football on the Gawler Oval
that is part of the area, and having attended countless Rotary meetings and
suicide prevention meetings in facilities on those parklands. 

Also, as the Minister for the Status of Women would understand,
there have been numerous International Women's Day events held in the community
facilities on those parklands. Only last night I attended the changeover of the
Rotary Club of Gawler, held in the new Gawler Greyhound Racing Club facility
situated on those lands. So, it is a significant element in my life but also in
the community of anybody within Gawler and surrounding areas. 

The reference to Pioneer Park is also one of great significance to
the history of the early cemetery for Gawler, but in more recent times has
become a great focus for the local RSL sub-branch and the very well attended
commemorations that take place on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. 

In conclusion, I again thank the House of Assembly for
establishing a select committee and doing it with the sort of processes we
regard as absolutely normal in this place. Unfortunately, there have been some
instances in recent years where the House of Assembly has almost reluctantly
agreed that a hybrid bill needs a select committee, and they have had these
extraordinary situations on a number of occasions where they have established a
select committee on a particular day, opened it and closed it within a matter
of minutes without going out seeking any public submissions, which I have been
very critical of (and I think I am not the only one) as it makes an absolute
joke of the situation. 

There was at least one occasion I think (I cannot remember the
particular hybrid bill) where in this chamber we were so taken aback by that
action that we in fact had our own select committee, which did the job
properly. In many cases I understand the fact that there are likely to be no
issues, but I remember one that the Hon. Mr Lucas and I served on some years
ago, where it appeared that no issues would be raised and the proponents of the
hybrid bill were not aware of an issue. However, when public submissions were
sought, someone from the public came forward with something of value, which we
were able to put into the bill as part of an amendment via a report from that
select committee. 

So, while these issues are sometimes unlikely to come forward, I
have always been of the view that, if there is a process to have a select
committee, then it should happen, as has been the case with this bill in the
House of Assembly, where it did actually publicly seek submissions. The fact
that none came forward shows that the bill is in good heart, and I am very
pleased about that. 

I am grateful for the fact that the member for Goyder picked up on
my suggestion and, in seeking a proper select committee process, actually
quoted me in the House of Assembly. I am pleased not about that so much but
about the fact that the proper process was done, because I felt that the lower
house was getting into the habit of having what I would call a mickey mouse
select committee. So, I am glad they have done the proper process and that we
now have this bill before us. With those words, I again indicate that the
opposition will support the bill and I commend it to the council. 

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister
for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and
Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business
Services and Consumers) (         15:54 ): I believe there are no further contributions to the second reading
of this bill, and I thank the opposition for its indicated support. This bill
amends the Local Government Act 1999 to address the issue of the Gawler Park
Lands. At present, the Gawler Park Lands are subject to a charitable trust for
the purposes of a public park or parklands and public cemetery. Charitable
trusts must be for the public benefit and must be for the benefit of a section
or division of the community, or the community generally, rather than for a
confined group of private individuals. 

Although much of the land held under trust has been developed in a
manner that is consistent with the terms of the charitable trust, over the
years the Town of Gawler has also granted a number of leases and licences that
are not consistent with the terms of the charitable trust. To address these
inconsistent leases and licences, the government agreed to the council's
request to legislate to discharge the trusts and to declare the land community
land under the Local Government Act 1999. 

The bill extinguishes the charitable trusts in relation to the
land and provides that no transaction entered into by the Town of Gawler in
respect of the land prior to the bill being enacted is invalid by reason of
constituting a breach of trust. In addition, the bill amends schedule 8 of the
Local Government Act 1999 to classify the land as community land, a
classification that is to be irrevocable. This approach will empower the Town
of Gawler to grant a wider range of leases and licences over the land whilst
still ensuring that the purpose and intent of the charitable trust are
continued and the land continues to be used for the benefit of the community. I
look forward to the bill being dealt with expeditiously during the committee
stage. 

Bill read a second time. 

Committee
Stage 

Bill taken through committee without amendment. 

Third
Reading 

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister
for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and
Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business
Services and Consumers) (         15:58 ): I move: 

That this bill be now read a third time. 

Bill read a third time and passed.