Revealed: Post-election plan to prep Martindale Hall for privatisation
In February, the State Government’s secret plan to repeal Martindale Hall’s conservation park status and extinguish the charitable trust protecting the historic mansion and grounds was made public.
Such a move opens the door to privatising this priceless public asset, gifted in trust for the people of South Australia by the University of Adelaide in 1986, continuing the spirit of the Mortlock family’s original bequest.
If successful, the Government plan would:
- Remove obstacles to the privatisation of the property, and abolish the conditions imposed by the charitable trust – including maintaining the historic integrity of the house and grounds
- Shift authority for decisions on change of use and other development matters to the State Planning Commission
- Set an alarming precedent – it is our understanding that none of South Australia’s 300+ conservation parks have had their status altered or removed (except when upgraded to become a national park or two or more parks have been amalgamated)
- Rob South Australians of a voice in the future of Martindale Hall; a move to legislate was slated for late 2017 but abandoned, with a possible second attempt after the election avoiding scrutiny at the ballot box
The issue was a heated point of debate at our Valuing Our Heritage Forum on Thursday 15 February, with the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Ian Hunter claiming the current trust is an obstacle to any sustainable development of Martindale Hall. “There is no ability to do anything to the site,” Environment Minister Ian Hunter MLC said at the forum. “If we had any plans to open it up for private investment we can’t do that without changing legislation.”
However such an extreme move cannot be undertaken lightly, especially when other advice apparently contradicts the Government’s view that legislating away the site’s protections is only way to secure its sustainable future.
“Martindale Hall is a special building worth protecting – the Minister’s advice was the park and charitable trust prohibits revitalisation,” Opposition Spokesperson David Speirs also said at the forum. “Other advice may say otherwise… the property has huge potential, needs to be unleashed”
Extinguishing the trust and Conservation Park would be an unprecedented move that could cast a shadow over similarly bequeathed treasures like Carrick Hill, undermine the confidence of future donors and philanthropists and betray the very premise of Martindale Hall’s original donation: that it should be “preserved as a place of heritage significance for the people of the state”.
It’s clear that the public overwhelmingly opposes any privatisation of this important piece of our history. Now more than ever, we need your voice this election season to help make sure all parties and candidates commit to keeping Martindale Hall in the hands of the South Australian people.
Read the full article in The Advertiser ($) here, contact your local member or candidates and join our campaign here. The results of a recent public survey on privatising Martindale Hall can be seen here: