Slings and Arrows: Adelaide’s Audacity Awards for 2016

Ash delights in presenting the inaugural awards for Adelaide’s most audacious bureaucrats and politicians. Competition was fierce.

2016 Bureaucratic Obfuscation Award

It’s Adelaide City Council!

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In October, a councillor called for “the stencilling of speed signs on roads [whose constantly varying speed limits] have proven to be confusing for motorists and have attracted high numbers of speeding fines (such as North Terrace, King William Road, Grote Street, etc) for a trial period.” This was obviously far too practicable so an administrators’ huddle (six thinking hats, etc) quickly came up with seven excuses as to why it would be impossible.

1. All other SA roads feature road signs only.

2. Stencils on road surfaces aren’t used in SA.

3. Even if they were used, wet weather would make them hard to see.

4. They fade quickly, so it’s costly to redo them.

5. It’s difficult to hide them when new, temporary speed limits are applied. (!)

6. When roadworks occur (fresh holes, etc) they’d get damaged.

7. Paint on a road could be a slip hazard.

Of course, the council could simply stop the rot – and change a continually variable mix of speed restrictions across the city (varying from 25kph, to 40kph to 50 kph to 60kph and often regressing to 25 or 40) to one standard speed limit. But then the expiation fee flood would slow to a drip. And there’d be much loss of face. Management egos are at stake!

2016 Empowering Local Communities Award

John Rau, Planning Minister, come on down!

John’s dogged pursuit of legislative replacement of the Development Act 1993 with the Statutes Amendment (Planning, Development and Infrastructure – PDI) Bill which should become an Act early in 2017 is about to deliver Labor’s deepest wish. SA’s council development assessment panels, established under the original Act 23 years ago, will cease to exist.


They were once the democratic mechanism guaranteeing open, transparent and equitable community participation in local planning matters. When the PDI Act provisions are enacted, councils instead will be forced to appoint a new, five member assessment panel. But only one councillor will be on it – a lone, toothless voice in the wilderness to reflect local views.

Ah John, you’ve finally achieved Labor’s goal of removing SA’s pesky voters’ equitable role in planning – the people who elected you (among others). And they won’t get another chance to vote again, now that your secret mid-2017 retirement plan is set to go.

2016 ‘Ardent Desire’ Award

The award goes to that enthusiastic innernorth resident, Rachel Sanderson, Liberal MP for Adelaide.

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Rachel Sanderson’s ‘ardent desire’ nabbed her this year’s prize (photo: Facebook)

Six years ago she gave her maiden speech (12/5/10) in which she said: “A quote on my wall that inspired me through my years of study and through my [Adelaide] campaign is as follows: ‘What you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must, inevitably, come to pass.’”

Ms Sanderson later campaigned to have the Royal Adelaide Hospital stay where it is (North Terrace) and to boost city high school capacity, replacing an earlier Liberal idea for a school on the Bowden Clipsal site. She championed a bid for a second campus of Adelaide High School (on the other side of West Terrace). “I plead with you, Mr Weatherill, to honour your pledge [Jay’s promise to end Labor’s habit of announce and defend], and that of your government, to start listening.”

Today, the RAH has moved west, and a new school plan has moved east. “I believe firmly that the people of Adelaide deserve better from their political representatives,” Ms Sanderson thundered. Deserve better than ‘ardent desire’? Ash is certain the people of Adelaide agree with that.

2016 Most Symbolic Gesture Award

No surprises here – Jay Weatherill come on down!

If a picture says a thousand words, here’s all the symbolism you need to note Jay’s career contribution to trashing the amenity of Adelaide’s central cultural place – the festival plaza and its heritage-listed buildings. It will be Jay’s enduring legacy to South Australia.

The Riverbank zone desired character police stipulation is unequivocal: “Buildings in the zone will be exemplary in their design quality and will enhance their setting among landscaped public spaces, heritage buildings … and not diminish their contribution and character.” Except that the $430m, 108m, 27-storey Walker Corporation tower will do precisely that.

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An artist’s impression of the anticipated office block to replace Festival Plaza

While Don Dunstan left SA with the Festival Centre, Jay will leave us with this enduring monstrosity overshadowing the site and the whole of Elder Park. It says everything about Labor’s 2016 regard for the character of Adelaide’s premier arts public space – and the people of SA. An award richly deserved.

Ash Whitefly is Executive Director of the
Adelaide Whitefly Institute of Diplomatic Studies

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