QUESTION: Suspending state laws for the Bend Motorsport Park

Today Mark asked the Leader of the Government, representing the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, whether the Marshall Government was considering suspending a range of state laws for the operation of The Bend Motorsport Park at Tailem Bend, owned by the state's biggest private company, Peregrine Corporation.


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Yesterday's version of InDaily has a story which suggests that the Marshall government is considering suspending a range of state laws for the operation of The Bend Motorsport Park at Tailem Bend, owned by the state's biggest private company, Peregrine Corporation. The article states:

InDaily understands the Shahin family-owned Peregrine has approached the Government to request the formulation of an Indenture Act to govern the 700-plus hectare site, which would re-write the laws on environment protection matters such as native vegetation and noise regulations, as well as liquor licensing and vehicle registrations.

The article goes on to say:

In response to inquiries about the possible introduction of an Indenture Bill, a spokesperson for Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister David Ridgway said he met in January 'with representatives of Peregrine Corporation to discuss the world-class Bend Motorsport Park'.

The quote from the minister's office statement is:

'Various matters, including liquor licensing, noise regulations and vehicle registrations during events were raised and the government is currently considering these issues'…

The article goes on:

In response to further inquiries, the spokesperson confirmed 'native vegetation' was another of the matters raised during discussions.

I note that in the year 2017, the previous government gazetted three separate regulations to exempt the Tailem Bend motorsport park from planning laws, environment laws and native vegetation laws. My question of the minister is:

1. Has the Peregrine Corporation complied with all of the conditions of their current regulated exemptions, including payment of funds into the Native Vegetation Fund by way of significant environmental benefit and preparation of a native vegetation management plan?

2. Does the minister think that exempting big companies from having to comply with state laws sends the right signal to other law-abiding citizens and companies that the government is committed to a level playing field for business in this state?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I am happy to take the honourable member's questions on notice, in particular the issues in relation to compliance. What I can indicate is that, certainly to my knowledge, there is no intention of the government to bring in an indenture act. There is no doubting, from what the member has quoted as the minister's spokesperson indicating, that clearly they have raised a range of issues with this government and probably the former government.

I think, as the minister's spokesperson was quoted as saying, the government will address those particular issues over a period in the future, I guess. I am not sure what time frame minister Ridgway has in mind. Clearly, it wouldn't be minister Ridgway's responsibility for a number of those pieces of legislation. They would be in other ministers' areas and therefore there would need to be discussions with those ministers.

I do know that one of the issues that has been raised for a significant amount of time is the potential issue in relation to noise control legislation. I think one of the concerns from the operators, as I understand it—and I will stand corrected if I am wrong—is that there is the power, essentially, to withdraw whatever current provisions there are at a moment's notice, so that the organisers of the park may well have organised a motorsport event 12 months down the track and engaged in expenditure and arrangements only to have a particular exemption, or whatever it might technically be called, removed at a moment's notice, which, of course, would make the operation of a motorsport park and a motor event clearly very difficult, or not difficult: impossible.

I am aware that that general issue has been raised and I suspect that was what was raised with the former government in relation to any initial exemptions or exclusions, or whatever the appropriate word was that might have been applied at the time. There are clearly some issues that have been raised in relation to the ongoing viability. The former government was a huge supporter of the park. Considerable funding was provided by way of loans and/or grants to the particular project or venture by the former government, so there was certainly a strong degree of commitment from the former government.

Certainly, from the new government's viewpoint, we wish them well. It's a bold venture. I think the people of the Murray Bridge region are quite supportive generally and encouraging. The Murray Bridge region, as another member raised earlier this week, will be suffering in two years' time potential lost job opportunities, so clearly a successful motorsport venture, with all the tourism-related infrastructure, has the capacity potentially to provide additional job opportunities for locals and others at that particular venture. So it isn't the black and white issue that perhaps some might portray it as. These things are matters of balance. The former government has looked at it. It has now been raised with us as a new government. We are obviously, on the basis of the spokesperson's comments, considering it.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Parnell, a supplementary.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: I thank the minister for that answer. If the minister is ruling out indenture legislation, is he ruling out other legislative interventions to provide exemptions? 

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I think what I said was I am not aware of any proposal for an indenture in relation to it but, when you say any 'legislative interventions', I think the former government, if they did take action, must have taken action by way of regulation. I note that the member, who is a lawyer, said 'legislative'. I would include regulatory as part of a legislative intervention. I would invite the member to clarify his question, if he wanted to, but I would interpret legislative as being regulatory, or legislation through the parliament, so I am not going to rule anything out along those lines.

If the former government used regulations, for example, as its mechanism, that might be a mechanism the new government might like to contemplate, but I am not foreshadowing anything other than, clearly, the issues have been raised both with the former government and now with the new government. We will have to consider them, so I am not ruling anything out. I am just saying I am not aware of any proposition for an indenture. It doesn't necessarily require an indenture. It may well be a number of regulatory changes that might be proposed, which of course, as we have discussed earlier today, are capable of disallowance by the member or indeed anybody else.


In reply to the Hon. M.C. PARNELL 

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I have been advised the following:

I am advised that the Peregrine Corporation has complied with its condition of exemption to pay the relevant funds into the Native Vegetation Fund pursuant to section 23 of the Native Vegetation Regulations 2017. This has been confirmed by the Native Vegetation Management Branch.

In each exemption a report prepared by a qualified native vegetation consultant has been provided and reviewed as appropriate by the Native Vegetation Management Branch and in accordance with the Native Vegetation Management Plan, developed in October 2015 for the site.

I am advised that due to the size, complex factors and novel nature of The Bend Motorsport Park (Motorsport Park) development, in 2016 the previous government made variations to regulations for future developments on the site and for its ongoing operations. These regulations cover the process to seek development approval, native vegetation clearance and noise management. In relation to native vegetation clearance the regulations require a significant environmental benefit on the land, or within the same region of the state, or payment into the Native Vegetation Fund of an amount sufficient to achieve an environmental benefit. In relation to noise, the Motorsport Park is required to comply with noise guidelines approved by the Environment Protection Authority. Any new developments on the Motorsport Park site require approval from the South Australian government. Relevant agencies retain their enforcement capabilities in relation to both development and ongoing operations of the Motorsport Park.