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City Council stands down from Oval Hotel legal fight

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Adelaide City Council is no longer pursuing legal action against the Liberal Government’s controversial $42 million Adelaide Oval Hotel, despite paying an initial $25,000 on external legal advice, councillor Anne Moran says.

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At this morning’s parliamentary committee hearing into the hotel proposal, Moran said the council had decided against seeking senior legal counsel advice.

In November, the council announced it was spending $25,000 on preliminary advice, with CEO Mark Goldstone at the time saying the lease terms of the Oval meant “that the (relevant) Minister must consult with the council” before undergoing development works in the core oval area.

However, he also stated that “in essence, council has no power to authorise or disallow it”.

In January it was announced the council had since decided to pursue senior legal counsel advice.

But when questioned by SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo today on whether the council was preceding with that advice, Moran replied “no”.

“I thought they should seek further advice,” she told the committee.

“The reason for that is… if this breaks the floodgates we really need to have all the legal advice for this and for the future problems.

“But, I understand the frugal nature of not seeking it.”

Moran said the council was hoping that it would find a “legislative lever” to stop the hotel build going ahead.

She said the council wanted to seek senior legal advice to help it “broaden the scope of the legal advice to look at anti-competitive laws”.

She also said the initial $25,0000 spent on seeking legal advice was not “an enormous amount of money”.

“Remembering… we are a capital city council and we do spend quite a bit of money on legal advice, well over $1 million,” she said.

“I personally thought that an important issue like this, that we might need to get some common law on, was worth spending a bit more on.”

Council’s CEO Mark Goldstone told InDaily that while council had made it known that it was seeking senior counsel advice, discussions were held in confidence.

“I will not be making any further comment,” he said.

Adelaide City councillors last year unanimously voted to oppose the oval hotel from going ahead, arguing it would impinge on the park lands and would have an unfair advantage over other hotels in the CBD.

The council also claimed it was kept in the dark about the hotel plan before it was released to the media.

SA-based AFL clubs Adelaide and Port Adelaide have also declared they were not adequately consulted about the hotel plan until after it was made public, with both now pushing to have representatives on the SMA board.

The committee has also heard from former Liberal Premier and deputy chair of the SMA, John Olsen, who denied he had a conflict of interest in pushing for the $42 million taxpayer-funded loan for the project.

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