“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”


DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)


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08 December 2010

SEAFORD HEIGHTS: BROWN BLASTS COUNCIL

DUDLEY BROWN, LEFT, AT THE RECENT TRACTOR ACTION PROTEST IN McLAREN VALE, WITH, L-R, DEMO ORGANISER LAURA JACKSON, CHALK HILL WINES PROPRIETOR JOHN HARVEY, THE AUTHOR, AND PETER DAWSON, FORMER CHIEF WINEMAKER OF CONSTELLATION WINES AUSTRALIA, NOW A GRAPEGROWER AND CHAIRMAN OF THE AUSTRALIAN WINE RESEARCH INSTITUTE photo LEO DAVIS

Brown Browbeats Bullshitters
Final Speech As Chairman Is

Stacked With Awkward Facts


SPEECH TO ONKAPARINGA COUNCIL 7 December 10 by DUDLEY BROWN, RETIRING CHAIRMAN OF THE McLAREN VALE GRAPE WINE AND TOURISM ASSOCIATION

My name is Dudley Brown. For the past two years I have been the Chairman of the McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association. Today was my last day in the job. Although I speak with an accent, I am an Australian citizen.

The McLaren Vale wine region’s borders which are call a GI are recognized by international treaty to be roughly contiguous with the borders of the City of Onkaparinga. Like you, we represent the entire city of Onkaparinga and not just the town of McLaren vale.

Part of our charter is to maintain and preserve the rural amenity of our region for future generations to enjoy.

The grape industry of McLaren Vale contributes average annual revenues of approximately $80 million to the local economy. It employs sustainably managed and renewable water for over 95% of its irrigation needs while employing over 700 people on a full-time basis. Another 300-500 people are engaged as a second source of income and many more on a contract or part time basis.

The wine industry of McLaren Vale accounts for over 10% of the national wine output by value, employs over 2000 people full time and contributes $700 million per year in revenues.

The tourism industry of the McLaren Vale area just within the Willunga Basin contributes $160 million per year to the local economy comprising over 240 different tourism businesses in accommodation, food, wine, arts, transportation and other areas.

Any conservative multiplier would suggest that our industries support another 3000 jobs locally and another 3000 across the state. We provide the single largest source of employment, rates and tourism of any sector of the city’s economy.

McLaren Vale is consistently recognized by key media such as Australian Gourmet Traveler and Delicious as the number one wine and food region in Australia.

It has the #1 regional restaurant in Australia at Fino, it is the #1 region in Australia for local produce, the home of two of the top ten wine lists in Australia at the Victory and Fino, the host of Australia’s richest landscape art prize, the most valuable vineyard land in Australia and the highest value wine exports from Australia both by average price and in volume.

When the planning decisions for the proposed Seaford Heights suburb were made between the 1960’s and early last decade, the McLaren Vale wine industry was:

a) Spread out with many vineyards in the northern half of the current City of Onkaparinga

b) Much less intensive in nature relative to other crops

b) Less than 10% of its current size economically

c) Insignificant in terms of tourism

Since that time, a large portion of the historic viticultural areas in the northern part of the city have been developed for suburban development with the oldest vineyard in Australia bulldozed with this Council’s acquiescence at Reynella last year.

At the same time, the southern part of the region has been much more intensively planted to vines. This part of the city is now, by far, the most intensively planted wine region (relative to other crops) in Australia.

The result has been an economic explosion of wine production and tourism in the region. McLaren Vale now accounts for: 25% of state grape and wine production by value, the highest per litre price for exports of any region in Australia, the highest total value exports of any wine region in Australia, the most successful job creator relative to water and grape inputs of any wine region in Australia and is the largest contributor to tourism of any SA region outside of Adelaide.

Moreover, as McLaren Vale is the highest cost region in SA for wine production, the economy is increasingly dependent on tourism and cellar door visitation as a path to profitability. Evidence of this is that cellar door numbers in the region have expanded from about thirty ten years ago to over eighty at present. This success story has evolved despite major wine companies withdrawing over 50% of their grape consumption and production from our high cost region over the past decade.

The result of this adaptive response to adversity is a wonderful and diverse set of tourism experiences that enable visitors to return many times and always have new experiences available to them. This is the exact type of organic economic development that state and local governments should be protecting and promoting rather than threatening with unsuitable development.

No other industry or area located in the City of Onkaparinga can list so many “best in Australia” gongs.

The Seaford Heights development is located at the entrance to the gateways to the tourism regions of McLaren Vale, the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. The land adjoins the beginning of the vineyards of the town of McLaren Vale on the Victor Harbor Road and the open spaces of South Road. It is the point where suburbia fades away and the holiday experience begins for more people than any other region in South Australia.

Any development that occurs here should be designed from the context of the site’s importance as a place of transition from the suburbs to a major wine and food tourism region not as an extension of the suburbs. Further, the site should also leverage the assets and possibilities presented by its proximity to an international airport for tourists, the city of Adelaide, major universities, one of the most economically important wine regions in Australia, a two-way freeway and a reliable supply of reclaimed water. Aside from the freeway, the current plan ignores all of these assets. For this reason alone, the Council should reject the current DPA as a hasty and ill-considered outcome for the entire region.

The documents for tonight’s meeting reveal that while the strategic location of this site as a transition zone from the suburbs to Australia’s most important wine and food tourism region seems to finally be understood, the importance of the soil and geology of the site are not understood at all.

In fact, the Mayor and staff, particularly Terry Sutcliffe, have repeatedly questioned the validity of the readily available geological information. Unfortunately for them, they are wrong in their beliefs and doubly wrong in trying to make others question the facts in this matter. That the people elected and hired to protect our interests would do this is a matter that you have the power to correct.













AN EARLY PROTEST AT SEAFORD HEIGHTS. AMANDA RISHWORTH (LABOR PARTY) WAS RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION TO HER FEDERAL PARLIAMENTARY SEAT. SHE FILED A POLICE REPORT ALLEGING THE THEFT OF HER CAMPAIGN POSTERS FROM PUBLICLY-OWNED ELECTRICITY POLES. NOBODY HAS BEEN CHARGED; RISHWORTH WAS RE-ELECTED

The facts at Seaford Heights are these:

The exposed geology of the site is 600-650 million years old. We know this because the state government’s best geologists studied and reported on this site to the state government over thirty years ago. However, this data was not published as a map until July of this year when MVGWTA paid to have it published in partnership with the state government’s PIRSA section. In fact, the state government was so proud of this effort that Minister Holloway was going to hold a public launch of this map in July.

Another fact is that there is no undeveloped site of this quality and age that exists in any other wine region in the world. It is truly an asset of international significance.

Another fact is that we know this geology will grow world beating wine grapes because there is another pocket of these soils in the Barossa Valley called the GSM triangle that has produced more perfect wine scores than any other sub-region in the world. This is where Grange, Greenock Creek and Torbreck are grown. This is a very big deal.

Another fact is that Seaford Heights is actually superior to the GSM triangle in the Barossa because of its proximity to the cooling breezes of the sea.

Another fact is that there is a virtually unlimited supply of ecologically friendly reclaimed water across the road from Seaford Heights that could be used to develop this site for agriculture.

Another fact is that the city’s planners made no effort to obtain or understand the readily available geological information about this site in its investigations in preparation of the DPA. The DPA suggest merely that the site has “grey brown loams suitable for foundations and gardens.” As a ratepayer, I find this level of willful ignorance and incompetence by our staff unacceptable.

Despite our understanding of these geological facts, we obtained an independent opinion as to the suitability of the Seaford Heights site for viticulture from Warren Randall so that the Council might understand this better. His letter has been distributed to you tonight. Please read it closely.

Warrens letter makes the international importance and economic potential of the site for viticulture very clear – at least ¾’s of a billion dollars of revenue over the next forty years for this region. Despite your Mayor and staff not understanding the value of this site, the rest of the world does.

Dozens of articles have been published all over the world in newspapers, magazines, blogs and web sites about the potential destruction of this site. The publicity created by destroying this land will last for generations and prevent our region from ever being recognized as one of the most important wine regions in the world.

The final fact is that prior to the public release of the geology map, one of the authors, Philip White, published an article in the Independent Weekly critical of Seaford Heights citing the evidence of this map. Minister Holloway subsequently cancelled the planned public launch of the map because the embarrassment caused by this article and overwhelming evidence of this map.

Some more facts:

The DPA for Seaford Heights was supposedly developed with the input of the Council and, by extension, the community. The MVGWTA was never consulted at any formal stage of the DPA process about this development despite the Councils statutory obligation to consult with significant community stakeholders. Only after we raised a ruckus (and following the official community consultation stage) did the mayor hold a special meeting to hear our concerns. Despite this, she does not yet seem to understand them.

MAYOR LORRAINE ROSENBERG: 'DOES NOT SEEM TO UNDERSTAND".













Another fact is that no serious use alternative to the proposed development was considered. Had we been consulted many other higher value uses would have been proposed for the site. What ideas would we have offered had we been asked?

Our region needs tourism infrastructure such as a significant hotel and restaurant space to continue to prosper. McLaren Vale is the only major wine region in the world that lacks a hotel. A hotel would create immediate economic value for the existing businesses across the region as well as jobs.

The region desperately needs high paying white collar jobs. The current DPA envisions low paying retail jobs. These McJobs jobs was the idea of city staff. On a wages paid or wages per square metre basis, these are about the worst jobs we can create at this site for our region. I’m pretty certain the staff didn’t concern themselves with these details either.

The wine industry needs office space, room for new cellar doors to open, storage and other uses. Another idea is for Flinders University to open a satellite campus for its national research center for ground water. McLaren Vale has the oldest managed basin in Australia and is the best test site in Australia to do this. Another is for Flinders to use the site as a location for a fourth stream for their business school in international hospitality management. Or, an institute for culinary arts and sommeliers. No one from the city has even approached any of these potential investors and employers to discuss these serious possibilities. I have and I know there is interest. These would all add far greater value to the region over all time horizons than another suburb with big box retailers that destroy our region.

What about a transit oriented development near the proposed tram station with high density housing close to south road that would supply significant affordable housing and preserve land for open space and viticulture?

What about building higher density detached dwellings like those at Lochiel Park that attract higher income residents who would create more high paying jobs nearby?

While there are many more, all of these are possibilities that create more value for our region by creating more sustainable high paying jobs and communities for people of all ages and incomes than the current proposal. The fact is that none of these possibilities were considered by the city staff in the preparation of the DPA. Just chain stores and business as usual suburban development.

AN ANGRY DAVID PAXTON IN HIS PRIZED GATEWAY VINEYARD, WHICH IS MANAGED WITH FASTIDIOUS RESPECT OF THE ENVIRONMENT. THE HILL BEHIND HIM IS THE SITE OF THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT - photo KATE ELMES

The final fact about Seaford Heights is that once the earth is turned for development, the land is destroyed forever for the highest possible agriculture use in the world. The question we have repeatedly asked without obtaining an answer is this: “knowing all of this, what’s the rush?”

What we expect from this Council are the following:

1) to protect as much of the Seaford Heights site as possible for agriculture by any means necessary including requesting the DP be returned to Council

2) to impress on the Minister the importance of the location and geology of Seaford Heights

3) to include Seaford Heights in the process for the protection of our agricultural lands

4) to delay any development at Seaford Heights until legislation can be considered and adopted to protect the agriculture of this region

5) to take the position that we want the highest and best use of this site for the future of the region for all of its residents to be the point for consideration, not what is easiest for the developer to build.

6) To send a message to your own staff that business is usual development and consultation in our region is a thing of the past and that we want the best for our residents, not the easiest for developers.

The fact is that this region has been sold out short by a lack of creativity and imagination by the people we employ to advance our interests and by a lack of leadership by the people we have elected to oversee them. Instead, we have a Mayor who publicly blames the Council, the State government and a vocal minority (that’s us) for the problems presented by this horribly flawed proposal.

In his closing arguments in the trial defending the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, John Adams famously said: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” We expect this Council to be guided by facts, not political expediency, prevarications or the willful ignorance of the mayor or the Council’s staff, in its deliberations tonight.

The final and most important fact I will present tonight is that we have a new council that is not bound by the decisions of the prior council. You alone have the power to take charge of this situation. We expect you to represent us appropriately by doing so. People and newspapers and magazines and bloggers all over the world are watching you tonight. We trust you will act accordingly.

... And Council's Response?
Some Sense At Last!
Now We Start Again ...

FROM THE MINUTES OF THE CITY OF ONKAPARINGA COUNCIL, TUESDAY 7 DECEMBER 2010

Cr Wenham MOVED an AMENDMENT

Considerable consultation and discussion has focussed on, and identified, different forms of development on the Seaford Heights land than that proposed by the developer.

Council strongly believes that these issues warrant further investigation and consultation, along with the list of unresolved issues previously identified by the former council. And subsequently at Government Planning and Coordination Committee and 30 November 2010 meeting convened by Leon Bignell.

1. That Council acknowledges receipt of the letter from the Minister for Urban Development and Planning of 29 October 2010 advising that he is proposing to continue the process for the Seaford Heights Development Plan Amendment.

2. That council request that the Minister for Urban Development and Planning consult with council and the community prior to proceeding further with the Seaford Heights DPA, particularly in relation to any changes he proposes to make to the consultation version of the Seaford Heights DPA. This includes the unresolved issues raised from the public consultation process (including the inclusion of planning for Seaford Heights development in the current planning for the protection of the Willunga Basin) and outlined in Council’s resolution of 7 September 2010 on this matter and communicated to the Minister thereafter.

3. That the consultation outlined in (2) above include a facilitated workshop involving:

• Selected City of Onkaparinga elected members and staff

• Parties who have made formal submissions on the DPA

• Department for Planning and Local Government

• Department for Transport Energy and Infrastructure

• Land Management Corporation

• Department for Environment and Heritage

• Environment Protection Authority

• Department of Trade and Economic Development

• SA Tourism Commission

• Department for Primary Industry and Resources

• State member for Mawson Leon Bignell

• Federal member for Kingston Amanda Rishworth

• Minister for Southern Suburbs

4. That the consultation outlined in (2) above also include an investigation of development form and land use appropriate to a gateway and transition to the Fleurieu Peninsula and the Willunga Basin eg mixed use development incorporating medium densities, offices, tourist accommodation, entertainment, cellar door and retail, university education.

5. That Council advocates the significance of the Seaford Heights geology and the need for this to be considered as part of this DPA.

6. That in the absence of a commitment from the minister to consult further with the council and the community on the DPA, the Minister is advised that council objects to his intent to continue the process for the Seaford Heights Development Plan Amendment.

Seconded by Cr Olsen.

The AMENDMENT was PUT and CARRIED. It then became the MOTION which was PUT and CARRIED.

9 comments:

Local said...

Well said!

Local said...

Well said!

rashid1891 said...

it is good site i like this

AK said...

Hear Hear!! Thanks for bringing this to the readers Whitey!!

Mr Green said...

What a ridiculous waste of time! Think of all the thousands of hours of people's time this has taken, just to get things back to square one.

Dudely brown has had a stormy time in his role at the McVGW&TA, but he leaves as a hero, with some of us wondering who'll be taking his role?

Council should be held responsible for this giant stuff-up: IT was the party that fluffed the consultation in the first place, sneakily trying to quietly shove something through as if that's normal practice!

What will now happen to the rest of the Reynella vineyard?

Robyn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Fantastic writing Mr. Brown!
We are going to miss you BIG time!!

Thanks Whitey!

Anonymous said...

White and Brown what a combination

Stunning work well done the pair of you

Carol said...

After only recently moving to the Vale, my husband and I were horrified when we heard of this proposal. My God, we had just left suburbia and looking forward to our new lifestyle. Am so pleased it is back to square one, now let's make enough hurdles that it does not progress in that direction again