Speech

Legislative Council

QUESTION: Martindale Hall

November 29th, 2016

On the 29th of November 2016, Mark asked the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation a question about Martindale Hall.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: On 12 April this year, I asked the minister about the status of an unsolicited proposal, in March 2015, from the Martindale Hall Partnership for the purchase or longterm lease of the Martindale Hall property for the purpose of creating a wellness retreat and five-star resort. Since asking this question, the National Trust of South Australia has also launched an unsolicited bid at the end of April. I have been advised that the government had put on hold its assessment of the bids while it reviewed the terms of the original bequest.

My questions are:

1. What is the status of each of these two bids, how are the assessments progressing, and when might we expect a decision?

2. Can the minister provide me with a copy of the assessment conducted by his department of the feedback from the community consultation regarding the first unsolicited bid, which concluded on 26 October 2015?


 ANSWER

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation,
Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): I thank the
honourable member for his most important questions. As we all know, Martindale Hall is a significant
example of South Australia's heritage, and the state government is committed to ensuring its heritage
and tourism values are preserved into the future.

Martindale Hall, the coach-house and other structures are listed on the state Heritage
Register, and are managed by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources as the
Martindale Hall Conservation Park. Martindale Hall is a grand Georgian mansion built in 1879,
located in Mintaro in the Clare Valley. The hall and the surrounding property was originally
bequeathed to the University of Adelaide in the 1960s. I understand there was also a trust fund
attached. In 1986, the hall and coach-house were excised from the Martindale estate and gifted to
the South Australian government, without that trust fund. The University of Adelaide retained the
balance of the estate, and subsequently disposed of it in recent times, I am advised.

Until December 2014, a portion of the Martindale Hall Conservation Park was held under
lease, providing public access to the historic hall, accommodation and use as a function venue. An
expression of interest process in 2014 was unable to find a suitable arrangement for the hall to
continue in the like manner, I am advised. Caretaker arrangements are currently in place to enable
the government to develop a sustainable long-term business model for Martindale Hall.

In terms of the unsolicited proposals, in March 2015 an unsolicited proposal was submitted
to the Office of the State Coordinator-General by the Martindale Hall Partnership. The proposal
looked to develop a five-star resort and wellness retreat at Martindale Hall, involving the surrounding
properties, including a number of options around lease or purchase of the property. The unsolicited
proposals steering committee assessed this proposal against the stage 1 criteria in the guidelines
for assessment of unsolicited proposals, and recommended that the proposal progress to stage 2 in
accordance with those guidelines.

Consultation on the proposal included a number of community information sessions,
attended by approximately 130 people and online via the YourSAy website. Consultation concluded
on Monday 26 October 2015. I understand that DEWNR is currently undertaking an assessment of
all the feedback received and therefore I won't be in a position to grant the honourable member's
request in that regard just at this point in time, but I will undertake—should he remind me—to get an
assessment of that for his interest.

I am advised that members of the public expressed interest in relation to ongoing public
access—I can do it now—the future management of the contents of the hall and, in particular,
whether or not the hall should be sold, if it was gifted from the University of Adelaide to the
government. There has also been feedback that rejuvenation of the property, through a tourism
product, could be a positive for the Clare Valley region.

I am informed that the National Trust has also submitted an unsolicited proposal to the Office
of the State Coordinator-General. I understand that the trust's proposal is to redevelop the site as a
heritage-based tourism attraction to celebrate its cultural and agricultural heritage. I understand that
the trust's proposal is being assessed by the Office of the State Coordinator-General against stage 1
criteria in the guidelines for assessment of unsolicited proposals.

In terms of next steps, I am advised that should the trust's proposal be recommended to
proceed, the government will, on the advice of the Office of the State Coordinator-General, consider
how to manage the assessment of both the trust's and the partnership's proposals. The government
has been very clear about its priorities in considering the future of Martindale Hall. If either proposal
is to proceed, it will need to demonstrate that there are clear benefits to the local tourism industry,
that members of the public are able to access the site and that the heritage values are to be
maintained.

Both proposals will be assessed on their merits to ensure we get the best results for
taxpayers. We would like to see the issue resolved as quickly as possible, without compromising the
integrity of the unsolicited bid process.

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