Ridgy’s travel advice | Is News Corp paying Pyne to lobby?

A new year, and a new Notes On Adelaide – with plenty to unpack about David Ridgway and his mysterious disappearing department, and Christopher Pyne’s singular ability to mix business with business.

Jan 14, 2020, updated Jan 14, 2020

Parklands Pyne

Christopher Pyne’s life after politics has thus far proved about as high profile as his former life as Federal Defence Minister.

He’s cultivated a minor media empire with his podcast and regular Advertiser column, while running a pair of consultancies, Pyne and Partners and GC Advisory, with former chief of staff Adam Howard.

While his ‘Tiser hot takes can veer between the topical (last year’s land tax standoff) and the ludicrous (the perils of wearing sneakers with jeans, aka “sneans”), his latest effort seemed to strike a chord with many.

He posited the need to redevelop Adelaide’s parklands, giving them new life and making them ‘for the many, not the few’, to borrow a Corbynism.

While Pyne singled out North Adelaide’s northeast parklands, arguing “there could be so much more use of the open space between Robe Tce and Lefevre Rd”, he pointedly didn’t mention the highest-profile development proposal on the table right now: the Adelaide Crows’ bid to relocate to the Aquatic Centre site on nearby Jeffcott Rd.

Still, the point was clearly made: ignore the NIMBYs, redevelopment makes parklands useful, used and vibrant.

It garnered plenty of comments, media discussion and, presumably, clicks. But the other thing the article didn’t mention, of course, is that Pyne is a longstanding Crows ambassador, and that GC Advisory lists the football club as a client on the SA Lobbyist Register.

It’s not the first time he’s traversed areas in his column on which he lobbies: last year he was singing the praises of the Marshall Government’s land tax compromise, while representing a group of businesses united against the aggregation measures.

Still, it’s not necessarily up to Pyne to declare his interests every time he wades into a topic.

But perhaps someone at the ‘Tiser should have?

Ridgy’s last hurrah

Speaking of spruiking, it’s worth noting David Ridgway’s final public act as Tourism Minister before he was unceremoniously ousted on the weekend.

Premier Steven Marshall, who only last week declared he had no plans to reshuffle his cabinet, took the opportunity to appoint himself Tourism Minister before jetting off on an overseas work trip to Asia.

Oddly enough, literally minutes before departing yesterday, Marshall was telling ABC Radio the switch wasn’t about him “doing a better job”, but about the fact Ridgy’s other portfolio areas of Trade and Investment “require a lot of overseas travel”, which he deemed incompatible with resurrecting the tourism industry in the wake of recent bushfires.

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“I think it’s going to require a lot of work on the ground here in South Australia and I just think that those two things are incompatible,” Marshall said, strangely neglecting to mention his impending trip.

But if the Premier’s timing was a bit off, he’s an apt successor to the man he’s replacing, who on Wednesday last week issued a media release “urging holiday makers to return to Kangaroo Island and support tourism and local businesses in the wake of the devastating fires”.

Balancing safety with the economic impact of the fires on tourism operators on KI is a sensitive issue, but the timing of Ridgway’s release raised eyebrows, coming just ahead of Thursday’s expected difficult weather conditions, with Vivonne Bay residents evacuated as a precaution and reinforcements called in.

“More than 90 businesses and operators remain open, and around 2000 square kilometres of the island is still accessible, including iconic sites such as Seal Bay Conservation Park, Little Sahara, Raptor Domain, Antechamber Bay, Emu Bay, Vivonne Bay, Pennington Bay and Snelling Beach,” Ridgway enthused.

“Tourist attractions including Clifford’s Honey Farm, Emu Bay Lavender Farm, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park and the Oyster Farm Shop are open, along with Kangaroo Island Spirits and the Kangaroo Island Brewery.”

The Wildlife Park’s operators, in fact, spent the next night defending the business against the encroaching blaze.

Asked whether the new Tourism Minister endorsed his predecessor’s statement, a State Government spokesman said Ridgway’s release “was premised on the need for people to follow CFS warnings”.

The release itself made no mention of the CFS.

As for the Tourism portfolio itself, it’s presently disappeared from the ministry altogether.

The Government Gazette yesterday noted Ridgy’s department’s moniker will now be shortened from “Trade, Tourism and Investment” to simply “Trade and Investment”, with responsibility for its various agencies and acts transferred over to the Premier.

Notes On Adelaide is a column telling the inside stories of Adelaide people, politics, institutions and issues. If you have information that you believe should be noted in this column, send us an email: [email protected]

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