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"Battered and beaten" Redmond breaks media silence

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Former Liberal leader Isobel Redmond has broken a three-year moratorium on speaking to the media to rail against the prospect of “private ownership” on the old Royal Adelaide site.

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Redmond has not spoken in the media outside parliament since she stepped aside from the leadership in 2013, but she was sufficiently “riled up” at the prospect of private ownership of apartments on the Government-owned site to speak out on ABC radio this morning.

She attributed her previous reticence to being “simply exhausted… and feeling somewhat battered and beaten”.

“And as time went on it occurred to me the best thing I could do to support [successor Steven Marshall] and the new leadership team was actually not to be a commentator from the sidelines,” she told ABC 891.

However, she spoke out today because “a highly placed source has informed me [the Government] is going to privately sell apartments”.

“That fundamentally changes the nature of thing in our parklands [and] it seems to me the beginning of a very slippery slope,” she said.

The Government has long-flagged residential development on the prime city site, with Planning Minister John Rau telling InDaily last year the development would involve “a mix of cultural things, educational things and commercial things, and possibly some residential, depending on exactly what the proposals are”.

But developers harbor concerns about the form this will take, whether private land will be sold freehold or subject to a 99-year parklands lease.

There is some consternation within the industry about the commercial ramifications of such an arrangement.

Redmond’s stance puts her at odds with her former media adviser Daniel Gannon, who is now executive director of the Property Council.

“What we’re talking about is a 7ha site flanked on one side by the River Torrens and North Terrace on the other. It’s got to be Australia’s most exciting development opportunity currently on offer,” Gannon told InDaily.

“That means we need the right mixed-use development in place – retail, tourism, hospitality and residential components should all rightly be in the mix.”

He said “whatever shape it does take, it needs to provide economic drivers for North Terrace”.

“The public discussion around residential offerings on this site is important, but at a time when our economy is sluggish, we shouldn’t let this stand in the way of developing the most exciting and commercially viable site we can possibly muster,” he said.

Pat Gerace, executive director
 of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, said freehold was “always more attractive than leasehold”.

However he said the Government should “let the private sector developers put something forward and see what can work”.

“Let’s just see what the proponents can put forward,” he said.

John Hill, the former Health Minister who announced the rebuild of the RAH, today told ABC 891 he was now an unpaid consultant to one of prospective developers.

“It’s not inappropriate… I don’t act on their behalf in a public way,” he said.

Hill said “if you want to see that site developed and turned into a vibrant site then you’re going to have to put some infrastructure there.

“I assume [the Government] don’t have the money to do it all themselves so that means there’s going to have to be private money in some form…

“But the land is under legislation – parklands – and the Government has said in their documents it will stay as parklands so it can’t be sold.

“The tenure of the land is the key question and as I understand it will be maintained as state land – parklands.”

Housing and Urban Development Minister Stephen Mullighan’s office told InDaily four parties had been shortlisted to respond to a request for proposals.

Both the Expression of Interest documentation and the Request for Proposals state “the site will be offered on long-term leasehold basis”, it said.

The Request for Proposals are due by 17 March 2016.

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