Tuesday 25th of June 2024

Brompton Files II: Robert Gerard Moves Out

I wrote this piece a year ago. Gerard's land-clearing made the papers yesterday..

Sometimes clearing local land dwellers out for business purposes is quite successful. The British managed to evict many Highland Scots from potential sheep pastures by religious trickery. The children of some of those evicted ended up poisoning the flour in Aboriginal workers' rations to clear Australian land for similar purposes. I've got a strong feeling that something similar almost happened to my family.

There's a little block of land that Adelaide magnate Robert Gerard, who recently resigned from the Reserve Bank Board due to allegations of unethical tax practices, might consider as desirable real estate. This defence site map will help explain.

Just above that little square of Adelaide city, between the road and the railway line (which now, thanks to Dick Cheney runs directly to Darwin) is a considerable acreage of factory land that is thought to be owned by Clipsal, and therefore sold in the company's globalisation by Sneider. However, sources within the company believe that Gerard retained the property and so would be able to do what he likes if his former business enterprise moves to China.

Almost abutting this to the west, fencing the factory in from the road, is my family's pub.

In 2001, due to a development application miscategorisation by our local council (given the dwellings were inappropriate to the Desired Future Area Plan characteristics in not being built to withstand the noise of the prevailing business district ) we learned that a set of townhouses was to be built behind us. Because the above-mentioned miscategorisation eliminated public consultation, we found out by watching the contractors laying the pipes.

Much later, by doing a land title check and confirming the information elsewhere, I found that the land for these townhouses had been acquired by one of those companies that specialise in investment ("two-tier") property sales ... this particular group had been the catalyst for legislation changes in their home state of Queensland. An odd choice of owner for such a slice of land, wouldn't you say?

Still later, prospective buyers being shown through the townhouses were told they need not be concerned about music noise from the pub, as it soon would not be a music venue. Apparently the agents weren't aware of the protective legislation that was about to be passed bi-partisanly by the State Parliament.

However I digress. In the two weeks between our discovery of the development, with its massive subsequent broadcast by most facets of the Adelaide media, and the rally in which five thousand people marched on Parliament to save live music venues, the local mayor came to have a conversation with my father. Due to City of Charles Sturt Mayor Harold Anderson's written threat of a defamation suit on my father for having discussed the matter with a councillor at the rally, I won't divulge the contents of the conversation. Suffice it to say for now that when our lawyer requested our rightful copy of the official tape of the conversation a written reply was received that said that as the conversation had been considered insignificant the tape had been erased. Copies of that reply have found their way to many sets of eyes, I think.

Referring back to the map, I'm surprised that the other train line doesn't appear. It runs parallel to the marked road down to Port Adelaide. This places the industrial land in a coveted strategic position - between two railways that both run to places of dramatically increased activity.

If the land on the other side of the track, the townhouses and the pub were acquired the industrial acreage would have frontage on Port Road.

On the northern border of the factory a hundred and fifty townhouses are under construction. There's a couple of interesting board correlations between these townhouse developers and Halliburton but to play it safe I'll venture no further than to say that Adelaide is a city with very few "degrees of separation."

Here are two other pieces of information that may or may not be important: (a) For his New Year's Eve party in 2004 Gerard hired the Ghan to shuttle his merrymakers from his factory door all the way to Darwin; (b) About six months later Defence Department base plans were found in a public bin near to the factory. A report in the Adelaide Advertiser said that DoD were looking into it, but no results of that investigation have been revealed.

In South Australia control of development approval has just been stripped from local councils. New legislation passed by the State Government last week requires the majority of seats on Development Assessment Panels to be filled by independent experts. This event resulted in my little missive that was published in the Adelaide Advertiser on Tuesday: [extract]

While some councils serve their population in making planning decisions, some, I suspect, serve their councillors' pockets. In my opinion the levels of corruption in planning decisions has diminished the credibility of local government to a point nearing incredulity amongst rate-payers in many parts of metropolitan Adelaide. Such a move also reduces the impact that interested commercial parties might have on a planning decision. Any councils that grumble about the State government's plans should be looked upon with suspicion.

I can't help but wondering if everything I've just related is merely a local story or a possible example of how facets of national and international plans are enacted on local levels If the land on which our pub stands (did I mention it's ten doors down from a Defence Housing Authority office?) was going to be useful in ongoing defence-related plans then quietly rendering the business residing there inoperative would have helped in a profitable acquisition. My family's protest, the media coverage and the five thousand protesters were elements that wouldn't have been factored into any "development facilitation strategies."

I'm pretty sure we've stuffed something up for somebody. I'd give my right arm to know the full extent of plans for this area, and how they might relate to the national defence picture. Maybe there's nothing in it, and all of the above pieces of trivia have no connection to each other.

However, as you can see, it's not the greatest suburb for a "conspiracy theorist" to be living in.


Epilogue, May 2007

[from The Advertiser, Yesterday]

SOUTH Australian electrical manufacturer Clipsal will move its national base at Bowden, freeing the 10ha site for a $42 million development.

It will move about 1000 head office and process staff by mid-2008. About 950 staff will move to a new site within 10km, while the remainder will move to its Wingfield operation.

The site for the new head office and manufacturing facility is expected to be finalised by August.

The Gerard Corporation has owned most of the land for 40 years and believes "something special" can be done with it, chief executive Simon Gerard said yesterday.