The latest public letter from Minister Corey Wingard on the Waite Gatehouse is an alarming mix of misinformation and threats. The time has come to call-out the Minister and his Government for promulgating this distasteful and dishonest material to a public that is now well informed of the true situation.
The massive enlargement of the Cross/Fullarton intersection can be exposed as an unnecessary and contrived infrastructure folly initiated by pork barrel funding from the Federal government at the 2019 election. The result of this $61 million venture will be an insignificant influence on traffic flow, but increased congestion further north and south on Fullarton Rd.
The Government has made much of the ‘improved safety’ of the new intersection based on its apparent concern about 35 reported crashes in the five years to 2019. This equates to an incidence of one crash per 2.92 million vehicle movements through the intersection; hardly cause for alarm, or indeed for over-reaction.
The Government maintains that 70 trees will be sacrificed if the Gatehouse is to be re-located. This is irrelevant and misleading. Certainly, trees will be lost in the process of creating the east-west left- hand turn slip lanes on Cross Road, but no mature trees will be destroyed if the Gatehouse is moved by the route and to the site preferred by the University.
In attempting to abrogate its responsibility for the fate of the Gatehouse, the Government has proposed financial arrangements with the University which are cynical and unworkable. The offer of $2 million from a heritage fund, thereby depriving other worthy projects of support, is a blatant attempt to wedge the University if it, quite reasonably, refuses the offer.
In addition, the suggestion that $2 million in land acquisition compensation be used for the Gatehouse re-location is a hoax, since the Government is well aware that the University, by Statute, is prevented from using this money for anything other than teaching and research.
And, finally, the intention of the Minister and his Department to apply to the State Commission Assessment Panel for permission to demolish the Gatehouse is a provocative threat aimed at pressuring the University and the community at large to capitulate in their democratic and responsible process and campaign to save the Gatehouse.
This whole issue is a no-brainer. The Government must not and cannot demolish the historic State Heritage listed Waite Gatehouse Lodge. If it intends to persist with the politically-motivated imperative to unnecessarily and massively widen the Cross Rd/Fullarton Rd intersection, then it must, immediately, commit to funding and managing the re-location of the Gatehouse, to a site determined by the University.
The relevant Ministers and Cabinet must, by now, be well aware of the breadth and depth of community support for this South Australian icon. They can no longer ignore the rapidly increasing numbers of signatories to the Online Petition (18,000) and hard copy petition to Parliament (7000) which will escalate to a threatening groundswell of public backlash in the looming pre-Election year.
The Premier and his Government should be in no doubt about the Electoral sensitivity of this issue. It will not go away. Further delay of a public commitment to the preservation and re-location of the Gatehouse is unacceptable.
Warren Jones AO
Tell your State MP to stop the destruction
Please write to your State MP and ask them to stop the destruction of the Waite Gatehouse. The Transport Minister Corey Wingard needs to find a better solution.
Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment. GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001