Amended ‘Save the Cranker’ motion passes parliament amid point-scoring

A watered-down version of a motion calling for the state government to oppose a bid to demolish the Crown & Anchor hotel has passed the Upper House, as Labor attacked the Opposition over its stance despite it backing the government’s amendments.

May 02, 2024, updated May 02, 2024
"Save the Cranker" supporters outside Parliament on Wednesday night. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily.

"Save the Cranker" supporters outside Parliament on Wednesday night. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily.

Greens MLC Rob Simms said he was “disappointed” that the Liberals backed Malinauskas Government amendments to his motion calling on reform to state heritage and planning laws to better protect venues like the Crown & Anchor.

A Singapore developer has applied to demolish the East End landmark for a 19-storey student housing tower, with two walls kept as a facade as a nod to its local heritage listing.

Crown & Anchor rally

The Crown & Anchor hotel would be demolished but its facade would remain as a “heritage” item under plans for a 19-storey student apartment tower. Image: Brown Falconer/Plan SA

Part four of Simms’ motion called on the government to oppose any demolition or adaptive reuse of the Crown & Anchor, to tell the State Commission Assessment Panel of its position, and to amend state heritage laws to ensure cultural and social value when considering development bids.

But the motion passed the Legislative Council yesterday after part four of Simms’ motion was deleted and replaced with a line in which MPs would be “encouraged” to make a SCAP submission.

The amended motion also noted that the hotel was last week granted provisional listing on the State Heritage Register, which protected it until its heritage values were assessed.

Simms and fellow Greens MLC Tammy Franks opposed the amendments, as did independent MLC Frank Pangello who said the motion had “highlighted the need for having live music venues… and for them to stay alive”.

But the Liberal Party supported the government amendments, despite MLC Michelle Lensink standing with Simms to address a “Save the Cranker” rally on Sunday to say she was “working to support Rob’s motion… to put pressure on the government to save the Cranker”.

Before yesterday’s vote, Lensink told InDaily that the Liberals would back the amendments as she had reservations with part four of Simms’ motion “from the get-go”.

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Following the vote, Simms said that he was “disappointed that the Liberal Party seems to have changed their position on [the motion]”.

“It seems to be a case of saying one thing on the steps of Parliament on Sunday and doing something a bit different here in Parliament, and that is a shame,” he said.

Liberal MLC Michelle Lensink with Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith at the Save the Cranker rally at Parliament House on Sunday. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Labor minister Tom Koutsantonis issued a press release attacking the Opposition for “backtracking on its pledge to save the Cranker”, despite its support to pass the government’s amended motion.

Koutsantonis said “sensitive party room documents leaked to the State Government” showed Lensink had been “advocating a very different approach to her Liberal colleagues”: “Once again, the SA Liberals can’t help but tear each other down – there are enough leaks out of this partyroom to soak a barmat,” he said.

Koutsantonis also said Save the Cranker supporters should be “disappointed by this betrayal”, and that “it seems Ms Lensink has either been forced into a backflip by her Right-faction opponents in the Liberal partyroom – or that she never had any intention of supporting Mr Simms’ motion”.

One member of the Save the Cranker facebook page said they were “very wary of this campaign being commandeered by pollies to use as a political football for this kind of crap”, while another accused Labor of “scoring points and distracting from the actual problem”.

Save the Cranker organiser Evan Morony said “the Malinauskas Government’s amendments took the teeth out of this motion”.

“Labor and the Liberals clearly feel the need to acknowledge the Cranker’s importance to the community. However, it rings a little hollow if the Malinauskas Government is not willing to support the immediate reform we need to save the Cranker,” he said.

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