SA Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex told a parliamentary committee this morning that the Government had donated Adelaide 500 merchandise to the Southern Field Archers Club in O’Halloran Hill to be “repurposed and used as target practice for members and club competition events”.
Asked to specify which merchandise was gifted to the club, Events SA executive director Hitaf Rasheed responded: “I think it’s stubby holders”.
“They cut them up and put them in bundles and use them as target practice apparently,” she said.
Other merchandise, such as clothing, has been donated to remote communities in the APY Lands.
Both Harrex and Rasheed said they were unsure whose decision it was to donate the merchandise, or what process the SA Tourism Commission went through to choose which organisations or communities benefited.
“I think they’re in the process of being distributed to them, I don’t know how that is,” Rasheed said.
“I know that one of my team members has been responsible for that.”
The State Government decided in November last year to back advice from the SA Tourism Commission and not renew a contract to hold the Adelaide 500 event in a bid to “drive a new era of events” for South Australia.
The Government argues that the race, which had been held in and around Victoria Park since 1999, was too costly and risky to run amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
At its peak in 2008, the Adelaide 500 drew in a crowd of more than 291,000 people, but the SA Tourism Commission claims ticket sales diminished in later years.
The State Opposition has pledged to bring the race back if Labor wins next year’s 2022 election, despite moves by the SA Tourism Commission to sell-off the event’s infrastructure.
Harrex told this morning’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting that the SA Tourism Commission had already handed a toilet block to Country Fire Service and a portable building to SA Health.
He said “several key assets” had also been sent to the privately-owned The Bend racetrack near Tailem Bend, including three overpasses handed over as part of a sponsorship deal, as well as concrete barriers and debris fences, which were purchased at market rates.
Rasheed said the rest of the infrastructure would be auctioned off from next week, despite admitting she was aware of the Opposition’s plans to return the event if it wins the election.
“I’m aware of the alternative, of course, I’ve read it in the newspaper (and) I’ve heard about it,” she said.
“But, I’m not involved in the decision-making and… the board made a well-considered decision (to cancel the event).”
SA Tourism Commission Chief Financial Officer Stephanie Rozokos said she was unsure how much money the Government would make from the sale.
“The proceeds will actually offset any cost to sell,” she said.
“Yes, there will be a cost to sell, but we don’t know what that is here and then any remaining funding will go back to the leisure events bid fund if possible.
“I would hope that the proceeds would be a lot more than the cost to sell.”
The SA Tourism Commission refused to say whether the compensation it paid to Supercars after cancelling the Adelaide 500 was more or less than the amount it cost to run the event.
SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo accused the SA Tourism Commission of attempting to “foil any hope of the event returning next year” by selling the infrastructure ahead of the election.
“It’s actually a political move – that’s how I see it,” he said.
“It’s just to foil any opportunity for that event to come back.”
Harrex said it was financially responsible to sell the items due to the ongoing costs of maintenance and storage.
“The risk of investing everything – tens of millions of dollars into four days versus putting more events right throughout the year and a diversity of events – that is the decision that has been made,” he said.
Harvest Rock taxpayer spend remains secret
Meanwhile, the SA Tourism Commission has refused to reveal how much it has paid an interstate festival organiser to hold the upcoming Harvest Rock event as part of its Bloom marketing campaign.
Harvest Rock is billed as a “music, food and wine experience” and organised by Secret Sounds, owners of the Falls and Splendour in the Grass festivals.
A venue is yet to be announced, but Secret Sounds CEO Jessica Ducrou said last month that the group “can’t wait to bring the city parklands to life”.
Asked by Greens MLC Tammy Franks how much taxpayer money had been handed to Secret Sounds to run the event, Rasheed said: “that figure is commercial in confidence:”.
“It’s a really competitive environment that we work in and those negotiations and those discussions are commercial in confidence,” she said.
“But, we feel really confident about the investment we’re making in this festival.
“Those discussions about promoting South Australia… and having South Australians benefit from this event are integral to the discussions we’ve had.”
Rasheed said South Australian producers and suppliers would benefit from the music festival, but she was unable to say how many South Australians would be employed.
She said the SA Tourism Commission had not set a quota for the number of South Australian musicians that needed to be employed.
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.