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Your views: on a cathedral project, Liberal ructions and state borders

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Today, readers comment on the Anglican Church wanting $35m taxpayer funding toward a St Peter’s Cathedral precinct upgrade, Legislative Council upheaval and constitutional state rights.

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Commenting on the story: Revealed: Anglican Church seeks $35m taxpayer funds for Adelaide cathedral revamp

It’s encouraging to see a bold vision for St Peter’s Cathedral and North Adelaide.  

The proposal provides some interesting and thought provoking opportunities for development of this precinct. It provides the catalyst for a robust debate about what the South Australian community’s priorities are in relation to arts and recreation facilities in what has the potential to be the premier precinct in our city. 

At a time when government is seeking to stimulate the economy it is also great to have a vision that involves building construction, with building projects creating broader employment opportunities and creating in the order of ten times the number of jobs than a civil works project of the same value.

Other opportunities for stimulus spending include social and affordable housing and community facilities that promote social support and interaction. This is critical at a time when significant sectors of the community are experiencing social isolation, housing issues and financial stress.

I note that the architects involved in the development of the Cathedral proposal are incorrectly stated as Melbourne based.  Woods Bagot commenced practice in South Australia 151 years ago and the people named in connection with the project are located in South Australia. While Woods Bagot have grown into a global practice, they maintain a studio in SA.  Let’s acknowledge this great SA success story. – Nicolette Di

I am totally opposed to using taxpayer money on this project. 

1. Churches do not pay rates or taxes.

2. Churches should be self-funded or sell their assets to raise money. If not, then close and convert the building  into another profitable use. e.g. concert hall, wedding venue etc.

3. 50% of the population are non-believers, with the remainder of different beliefs, non attendees etc. Times are changing. – Antony Leahy

In regard to Lucas’s comment: “As with all proposals, the Government will consider it but my personal view is it would have to be a fairly high threshold to be putting $35 million into a cathedral.”

From the way the report describes the cathedral proposal, it’s adding wide and attractive cultural value to the area from the CBD into North Adelaide. Ie, it isn’t putting it ‘into a cathedral’. 

It would be good if the State Government based their decision on the big picture. – Cathy Chua

I am opposed to the State or Federal Government giving money to the Anglican Church for this project.

They could sell some of the many properties that have been left to them over the years, to raise the money required. – Douglas Matthews

On the sheer cheek of the Anglos to ask the people to pay for their gleaming spires, I have nothing to say.

I limit myself to your remark that Col. Light intended the Anglican Cathedral to be built in Victoria Square. Don’t believe heritage architects. They make lousy historians.

Col. Light intended a non-denominational church to be erected in the Square. The chief objectors were the Anglicans. They didn’t want to share. (Except with the Quakers. But that’s another story.) The Dissenters weren’t thrilled, either. (The Catholics were not, of course, asked. But guess where their Cathedral is?)

Lights’ idea died with him in 1839. Amen. The large red Maltese cross in the centre of a very early engraved plan of Adelaide was subsequently read to refer to the one-and-only-truly-Christian-church-anywhere, viz. the Church-of-England-because-the-rest-don’t-count.

I recall John Tregenza remarked on this scenario in Collegiate School of St. Peter Adelaide : the founding years 1847-1878 (1996), or else something might be in his papers at the State Library: PRG 1336. He certainly told me the gist of this when we last met, running into each other on North Terrace. A fine fellow. A real historian.

I’ve never seen Light’s particular vision reliably contradicted. Contradicted, sure. Not reliably, I say.– Peter Moore

Commenting on the story: Lib split with a twist: elder statesman backs rebel MP

The recent politicking by the members of the SA Upper House indicate that we need a referendum to abolish the Legislative Council.

The current members and likely candidates for the 2020 election would be the only people in favour of retaining  it. Bill Hecker 

Commenting on the opinion piece: Federalism, state rights and the law

I do not doubt that the economy will be very poor because of the coronavirus, but people will prefer to be alive and poor than rich and dead. – David Lines

Mr Bailes wrote an opinion piece in this same publication on 4 June 2020 which took, at best, an equivocal view on the legality and justification for border closures.  

I wrote a fairly detailed comment (which, not surprisingly, was not published) which was critical of Mr Bailes for failing to use his platform and his standing in the legal community to actually take a position on border closures at that early stage.

Doing so now, after the proverbial horse has bolted, is tantamount to picking lotto numbers after the draw. Social media is filled with objections to Victoria’s draconian measures, and the Prime Minister has already made his position clear, so taking this position now is basically devoid of any risk.

An objective (and importantly, fear free) analysis of the reasons for border closures would have immediately highlighted that those closures were not based on sound policy or law.  

The Australian Constitution contains precious few positive rights, but Mr Bailes correctly states in his 4 June 2020 opinion that one of them is the freedom of interstate commerce, enshrined in section 92.

Once that is established, the analysis is not controversial. If a law impedes interstate commerce, it is prima facie invalid, and will only be “un-invalidated” if the legislature can establish that the infringement is simply an incidental burden in pursuit of a legitimate aim (Cole v Whitfield; per Brennan J).

In SA, we have a “hard border” with Victoria, save for specified categories of persons but, for all relevant purposes, SA has determined that no one from Victoria will be permitted to enter SA.

It is important to note that this prohibition applies to a person by virtue of being Victorian. There are no additional qualifying factors. For example, that Victorian need not have come from a “hotspot” suburb, or be awaiting the results of a Covid test, or have lived with someone who is. It is unashamedly discriminatory based only on the fact that person resides in Victoria.

Constitutionally, that law must be invalid, but is there a “legitimate aim” that might save it? Quite obviously, we are told it is to stop transmission of COVID-19.  

However, in order to transmit, that Victorian must actually have the virus. A blanket ban, as SA has, is predicated on an assumption that there is a material chance that everyone in Victoria is infected. That assumption has got to be based on sound evidence, or else there can be no “legitimate aim“.

The numbers simply do not support that assumption, nor has it ever been capable of doing so. As of today, Victoria’s total cumulative cases is about 19,600. Of these, all but about 2,000 have recovered, so Victoria currently has approximately 2,000 active cases (that is, Victoria currently has 2,000 people that are capable of transmitting COVID-19).

Victoria’s population is approximately 6.4 million people. To put that in perspective, active cases currently comprise 0.03% of Victoria’s population, meaning that any given Victorian that approaches the SA border has a 99.97% chance of being Covid-free.

Even if all Victoria’s total cases were to exist at the same time, that would mean that 0.3% of Victoria’s population was infected, and means that any Victorian approaching the SA border has a 99.7% chance of not being infected. Still miniscule. That is not even accounting for the fact that, according to the WHO, COVID-19 has an approximately 17% infection rate, meaning that you have a 17% chance of catching COVID-19 even if you come into contact with an infected person.  

If you were to apply that percentage, the probability that a given Victorian entering SA will infect an SA person, is approximately 0.005%. Put another way, you would have a 99.995% chance of not catching COVID-19 from a Victorian entering SA.

In short, SA’s blanket border closures are designed to prevent an occurrence that has a 0.005% chance of occurring. To put that in perspective, getting struck by lightning at any time in your entire life, is more than 10 times more likely.

On this basis, it seems inconceivable that SA’s hard border with Victoria is legally justified. The only rational explanation for SA’s continuing border closures is fear.

It is the responsibility of those in leadership positions in the legal profession (let alone our political leaders) to clearly and unequivocally call out such irrational fear-based lawmaking, and not simply to skirt around the issue. – Edwin Fah

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