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Cloud lingers over Brompton gasworks redevelopment

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The Malinauskas Government won’t say whether talks are continuing with the Victorian developer picked ahead of the Adelaide Crows to develop the Brompton gasworks site, as it presses on with a review of the previous Marshall Government decision.

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The state government is searching for an independent firm to review the former government’s decision to award Victorian developer MAB Corporation exclusive negotiating rights to remediate and develop the 5.8-hectare site just north of the CBD.

MAB’s master planned village proposal, worth $459 million, includes a 120-room hotel with associated piazza, cafes, restaurants and bars. It will also feature 207 townhouses, 305 market sale apartments, 120 affordable apartments and up to 200 build to rent and aged care dwellings.

There were four bidders, including the Adelaide Football Club, shortlisted by Renewal SA to remediate and redevelop the Brompton Gasworks.

The Crows’ plan incorporated 57 per cent open space compared with MAB’s 25 per cent, although it’s understood MAB’s commitment to site remediation swung the decision in its favour.

But Labor’s pre-election commitment to review the former government’s decision has thrown the Crows a potential lifeline in its bid for a new base at the site, despite the club indicating in January it would shift its sights to Thebarton.

Details around Renewal SA’s current negotiations with MAB Corporation remain unclear although the company has signed no development agreement with the state government, with Planning Minister Nick Champion saying no deed will be executed until the review is complete.

Shadow regional planning spokesperson Sam Telfer asked Champion in parliament last week whether Renewal SA was “still dealing with MAB Corporation as the preferred proponent of the Brompton Gasworks development”.

Champion did not directly answer the question, instead saying the former Marshall Government made the Brompton announcement “without consultation” and “refused to release any of the criteria or any of the weightings around this deal”.

“I could ask all of you questions. I could ask the former environment minister (David Speirs) whether he took an interest … in the most dirty, polluted site in South Australia, couldn’t I?” Champion told parliament on May 18.

“This review will look into whether or not … this agreement is consistent with the original approval for the Bowden Urban Village.

“So it’s a whole range of things; we can get into a whole speculative game, if you want to. We can really do that … but what I would do if I was you … would be to just wait for the government to implement its election policy and wait for the outcome of the review.”

Champion said the review would take six to eight weeks once an appropriate firm is appointed.

The government has announced a review and that’s the matter done.

Telfer also asked Champion if he had “directed Renewal SA executives to cease work on finalising the development agreement” with MAB Corporation.

Champion responded: “I don’t know how many times I have to go through it. We announced a review before the election. We are currently in the process of implementing that review.”

“It’s pretty simple: we are fulfilling our election commitments.”

InDaily also put questions to both Champion and Renewal SA asking whether there has been a ministerial direction for the agency to cease negotiations with MAB Corporation.

A Renewal SA spokesperson said: “The minister has previously stated that a Development Agreement will not be signed until a review is complete”.

Champion was also pressed in parliament on how many affordable houses MAB’s proposal would deliver compared to the other three shortlisted parties, but said it would be  “inappropriate for me … to comment on what is a set of commercial relationships undertaken by Renewal”.

“In the same way it would be wrong for me to compare any other aspect of these deals, it would be inappropriate for me to compare …. on the presumption of the question,” Champion said.

“The government has announced a review and that’s the matter done.”

A Renewal SA spokesperson also told InDaily that “any details comparing the shortlisted proposals remain confidential”.

In an earlier parliamentary sitting on May 5, Telfer asked Champion whether the government had determined “what liability the taxpayers now face to compensate MAB as the preferred proponent for their sunk tender costs and lost revenue from the project?”.

Champion responded: “Again, you invite me to hypothecate about the future, whereas what we are actually going to do is implement our election policy, which is to have a review and then receive the review and then make decisions from that – it is simple.”

Champion’s office earlier this month disclosed the criteria weighting which informed Renewal SA’s Brompton decision:

Insiders told InDaily in April the points-based judging criteria that awarded exclusive negotiation rights to MAB “wasn’t even close”, both as an aggregate score and “in each of the individual categories”.

Shadow Attorney General Josh Teague asked Premier Peter Malinauskas in parliament on May 5 if “in case the review comes down in a way that he doesn’t like, will he commit now to accepting its outcome?”

In response, Malinauskas said: “I think the key component of the Member for Heysen’s question is: why are we so determined to honour our election commitments?”

“The answer is: because it’s the right thing to do.”

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