BY BRONWEN BEECHEY
ADELAIDE — Under the banner of "Save our state!" more than 5000 people marched through the city on July 14, demanding that Adelaide's live music venues be protected from inner-city residential development.
The rally demanded that licensed premises be advised of relevant development plans, such plans recognise prior occupancy of licensed premises, minimum building specifications for developments within 200 metres of licensed premises be created and that real estate agents be required to inform potential buyers of venue activities.
The increasing gentrification of the inner-city is threatening to close a number of popular inner-city pubs including the Grace Emily, the Austral, the Seven Stars and the Exeter. There are also plans to build residential apartments next to the Governor Hindmarsh Hotel. The "Gov" is one of Adelaide's most popular live venues. As well as featuring well-known Australian and international acts and supporting local bands, it provides space for community groups to do fundraising and has helped organise benefits for progressive causes such as East Timor solidarity.
The rally was one of the largest in recent years, and the diversity of the participants indicated broad support for the maintenance of live venues. Among the organisations supporting the rally were the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, the Australian Hotel Association, the Musicians Union and the Southwark Brewery. Attending were musicians of all kinds, many with their instruments and many young people angry at the prospect of losing their favourite venues.
Before singing a song composed for the occasion, well-known local folk musician Eric Bogle told the crowd that the best way to beat the developers was by having "honest, open government and an independent media that asks questions". Messages of support were read out from jazz musician and activist Vince Jones and the Whitlams' lead singer Tim Freedman.
State arts minister Diana Laidlaw addressed the rally, pledging to take the rally's demands to parliament. However, she was received with cynicism by most participants, who are aware of the close relationship between a number of Liberal Party figures and some of the major property developers.
The rally was also supported by the Democrats, the Greens and the Socialist Alliance, which will campaign to save the Governor Hindmarsh Hotel. More information is available at <www.savethegov.com>.