QUESTION: Future of Highgate Park

In Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Human Services about the future of Highgate Park (formerly known as the Julia Farr Centre in Fullarton) and whether, if the land is sold, it would be rezoned to maximise its value and therefore benefit the beneficiaries of the trust, or whether it would be rezoned consistent with the surrounding residential area.


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: The last residents of Highgate Park moved out I think in April, and the YourSAy website today has launched a consultation on the future of those sites. According to the website, it says:

The Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink MLC is the sole trustee of the trust.

This is the old Home for Incurables trust. It might still be called that. The website goes on:

The future of the site, and the trust as a financial entity, is the trustee’s personal decision, to be made in the best interests of trust beneficiaries.

The issue it seems the Minister can perhaps address in answering this question is: if the object of the exercise is to maximise the benefits to the beneficiaries of the trust, then the land would be rezoned to its highest possible value in the event that the land was to be sold.

The Government has said that any sale of the land will be a separate process from the decision about the future of the land, but it would seem to me that there is a dilemma between good town planning principles, which take a holistic view of an area, and the Minister's obligation to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the trust.

So my question of the Minister is: if the land is sold, would it be rezoned to maximise its value and therefore benefit the beneficiaries of the trust, or would it be rezoned consistent with its surrounding residential area?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): The honourable member, in asking his particular question, demonstrates his superior knowledge in planning principles, which certainly outshine my own. The Treasurer often quotes that he's not a lawyer, and I confess not to suffer from that affliction either.

In terms of the future role of the Highgate Park site, honourable members would be aware that it is a multistorey site; it has particular issues because of asbestos, which affects its value as well. We did have the last resident happily move from that site in April. In the past, it has been home for up to hundreds of people in a time when people with disabilities were cared for in a very different manner from the way they are today, which is very much about people living in the community with supports, for which, through the NDIS, the funding is now available.

I am very conscious of the fact of the weight of this particular role, which is why we are consulting extensively, as the honourable member would appreciate, with ministers who have sites that are in fairly highly valued areas. I get all sorts of suggestions about what should happen with that site, to most of which I have chosen to say, 'Thank you for your suggestions, but my obligations are very much'—as he has described—'for the benefit of people with disabilities, and that's why we are undertaking this consultation.'

So I think it's probably premature to go to how the zoning of that site should look, because we want to make sure that it's maximised for the benefit of people with disabilities. That's very much at the forefront of my mind. I think it's probably premature to pre-empt what the consultation might say, but obviously that will be a matter for the public record going forward.