The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC

Treasurer

Speeches

Adelaide 36ers

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:50): I want to speak this afternoon about a great South Australian sporting institution, much loved by hundreds of thousands of South Australians over the years, the Adelaide 36ers, the men's basketball team. Many tens of thousands of people have enjoyed following the 36ers, at what was the powerhouse and is now the Distinctive Homes Dome, and particularly the greats of the Adelaide 36ers basketball team, including Green and Davis, and of course the much-loved Brett Maher, who possibly played his final game only this month.

In recent months, in particular, men's basketball nationally has been going through some significant problems, with teams in Sydney and a number of other places folding mid-season and having to be bailed out. As a result of that—and to cut a long story short—there has been a review and a national agreement to establish a new national body to run men's basketball in Australia. On Friday next week—just nine days away—all clubs in Australia that want to participate in this new national league have to submit their licences. There are some extraordinarily onerous requirements—and one can understand the reason for that is to try to prevent clubs folding mid-season—one of which is that there be a deposit of up to $1 million by each group seeking a licence.

South Australian members will be aware that in recent years Premier Rann and Treasurer Foley negotiated a deal in relation to men's basketball in South Australia. Among other things, it resolved financial problems and resulted in Mr Mal Hemmerling and his interests owning the 36ers and Mr Eddy Groves owning the Distinctive Homes Dome.

It has been known for some time in Adelaide and South Australia that Mr Hemmerling and Mr Groves have been looking for new and prospective owners for both the 36ers and the Distinctive Homes Dome. To date there have been no takers, although there has been speculation about particular interested groups.

The situation will be that on Friday week the current ownership, Mr Hemmerling and others—because there will be no-one else—will lodge, we hope, a bid for a licence for South Australia in order to enable the 36ers to continue. It is my understanding that, if Mr Hemmerling and the current interests lodge a bid, they will not be able to lodge a bid which conforms to the national requirements. If I am wrong—and I hope I am wrong and we see a conforming bid—in particular it requires agreement to lodge a deposit of $1 million.

The reason I raise this matter this afternoon is: what role can we and the government play in order to ensure that the 36ers continue in South Australia? There are a number of things. I am not calling on the government to pay money directly to any private group in relation to this matter but, for example, there are current restrictions on the Distinctive Homes Dome in relation to the number of concerts and events that can be conducted there. The restrictions were put there originally by the Bannon government in the 1980s to protect the old Entertainment Centre. There are a number of things that the government could do to try to assist the continuation of the 36ers.

I am an avid follower of basketball and I confess my bias. The point I make is that there is some danger that the Adelaide 36ers might not be able to continue and lodge a complying bid in order to be part of the National Basketball League in Australia. Certainly, if that were to be the case, it would be a tragedy for tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of South Australians who have loved not only the 36ers over the years but also men's basketball. So I wanted to flag that this afternoon as an issue. The Cairns community, for example, is trying to save its licence, and up to 100 people have donated $5,000 each to assist it in that. There are a number of initiatives that governments and communities, if they really wish to ensure the continuation of the Adelaide 36ers in South Australia, might be able to undertake to support this, I believe, worthy cause.

Source: Hansard

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