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More changes at Renewal SA as chair leads board exits

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The state’s troubled urban renewal authority Renewal SA is set for a new shakeup with chair Bronwyn Pike leading an exodus that will see the board shrink from seven members to six.

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Pike, a former Victorian Education minister and Labor MP, has advised the Marshall Government she will be concluding her term as presiding member at the end of this month, after seven years in the role.

She was chair during the Gillman land saga, with a 2015 ICAC inquiry hearing evidence she “had told two persons that… she had been telephoned by [then-Minister Tom Koutsantonis], who told her to get the transaction across the line otherwise it would cost her her job as Chair”.

Pike told the ICAC she denied such a conversation ever took place.

As InDaily forecast in December, Pike will be replaced as chair by recent board appointment Con Tragakis, a high-profile chartered accountant who currently runs his own advisory firm east2 and was formerly chairman of partners for KPMG in SA.

Following Pike off the board are former Adelaide Airport boss Phil Baker, ALP veteran Terry Groom and property consultant David McArdle.

They’ll be replaced by Anne Skipper, a veteran of various government, not- for-profit and private sector boards, commercial property heavyweight Phil Rundle and Kimberley Gillan, the state representative at Charter Hall. The property investment company lists the contentious new government office block on Nile St in Port Adelaide in its portfolio and is also behind a $250 million office tower underway next to the Adelaide GPO for which the government has committed to a 12-year partial tenancy.

Acting Planning Minister David Speirs said in a statement that the new members would bring considerable local experience and strategic knowledge of the residential, retail and commercial property sectors in Adelaide, helping Renewal SA’s operations “take on a fresh look”.

“The new members will enhance the board’s credentials and knowledge, complementing the wide-ranging expertise and experience of existing members Helen Fulcher, Jim McDowell and Con Tragakis,” he said.

“The appointment of Anne, Phil and Kimberley will build a strong and balanced leadership group, with in-depth experience in corporate governance and a wealth of local business knowledge.”

Groom told InDaily he did not seek reappointment, emphasising that he would be turning 75 this year.

“My view has always been that these are the ministers’ boards and the minister’s entitled to make whatever appointments the minister wants,” he said.

Tragakis said in a statement he was confident “that he has the full support of the right people to steer Renewal SA in the right direction”.

“Through the development of publicly-owned real property managed by Renewal SA, we have a huge opportunity to drive economic prosperity in SA,” he said.

“As a board, we will seek continual improvements in performance of Renewal SA through the implementation of effective strategy, in partnership with the private sector property development industry, to stimulate demand and interest for SA real property projects.

“The activity under Renewal SA’s management and control is critical to the state’s growth agenda, and the positive impacts of urban renewal as a contributor must be better understood and acknowledged.”

The transition comes at a crucial time for the troubled agency, which has been mired in uncertainty since two of its four-person executive team, including CEO John Hanlon, took sudden leave almost a year ago.

Both are still listed on the executive team on the agency’s website, with fellow executive Mark Devine acting as CEO in the interim.

In response to questions about the current status of the executive team, a government spokesman replied: “There is no change to the Renewal SA executive team. Mark Devine is the Acting Chief Executive. There is nothing further to add to that than what’s been previously provided on the matter.”

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