Welcome to my latest newsletter. On Tuesday night, Council considered a range of issues, including the Adelaide Oval Hotel, a submission on single-use plastics and an e-bike trial. This newsletter summarises some of the key outcomes.
Council unanimously supported the recommendations from last week’s Committee Meeting. You can read more about these here. I know that the status of the trees on Hurtle Square is an issue of concern for many in the community. Council endorsed the Committee’s recommendation that the two trees that were set for removal be retained.
Participatory Budget Processes
I moved that Council request administration prepare a report on the potential to utilise participatory budgetary processes for the 2019-20 budget, with particular regard to the experience of the City of Melbourne. The motion was seconded by Councillor Moran.
Participatory budgeting involves more direct engagement with the public around budget measures. As we approach the next budget cycle, I thought that this represented an opportunity to look at best practice from interstate.
The City of Melbourne has used this approach and had a very positive response from the community. You can read more about that here.
Councillors Moran, Martin, Khera and Donovan supported the motion. Unfortunately, Councillors Abiad, Knoll, Couros, Abrahimzadeh, Hou and Hyde were not open to administration even investigating the idea and defeated the motion. The reasons for this position were not entirely clear to me.
I will continue to advocate for the community to be more actively engaged in Councils’ budget processes.
Improving Transparency in Local Government Elections
I moved that Council:
- notes that the State Government will soon be reviewing the Local Government Act
- supports the disclosure of political party memberships and donations received (above the value of $500) by candidates seeking election to local council, on an online register before commencement of the voting period
- requests that the Lord Mayor write to the Local Government Minister, detailing Council’s support for this reform and encouraging the Government to consider this as part of its review of the Local Government Act.
The motion was seconded by Councillor Moran.
During the last election, political party memberships and ties were a key topic of conversation within the community. While my membership of the Greens is well known and on the public record, this was not true of all candidates. In my opinion, voters should have access to this information prior to casting their vote, so that they are able to make an informed choice based on a candidate’s political values and associations. My motion would have simply called on the State Government to amend the Local Government Act to require these disclosures before people vote (rather than current practice, which is after the election).
Councillor Hyde amended the motion and instead called for a workshop looking at the Local Government Act and City of Adelaide Act more broadly. I opposed the amendment and argued in favour of my original motion, as I considered it to be an opportunity for Council to take the initiative on an issue around which there is broad consensus within the community. The amendment was successful with Councillor’s Abiad, Knoll, Couros, Abrahimzadeh, Hou, Hyde and Khera in support and my original motion was not supported.
I will strongly advocate for improved accountability measures during the coming workshop.
Reducing Single Use Plastics
As I reported in my recent newsletter, the State Government has recently released discussion papers on reducing single-use plastics and expanding the container deposit scheme. I moved a motion that administration prepare a submission on these papers for endorsement by Council. The motion was carried unanimously.
Last year Council received a deputation from Dr David Faber about the Cenotaoh relocation. On Tuesday night, Councillor Donovan moved that Council:
- Notes that the Australasian Soldiers Dardanelles Cenotaph, the first war memorial in Australia, has been relocated from Golden Wattle Park / Mirnu Wirra to the Anzac Memorial Walk.
- Requests that a design project be identified in the 2019-20 draft Integrated Business Plan to explore opportunities to create a commemorative location and community destination in the south Park Lands, to consider:
2.1 Both the original location of the Cenotaph in Wattle Grove adjacent Sir Lewis Cohen Avenue and the later location of Lundie Gardens;
2.2. Reinstating the grove of wattle trees in Wattle Grove adjacent Sir Lewis Cohen Avenue; and
2.3. Options for a new memorial in one of these locations to commemorate a significant wartime event.
- Authorises the CEO or delegate to negotiate with Veterans SA, the Veteran’s Advisory Council and other similar bodies to seek design advice and request potential funding assistance.’
The motion was carried unanimously.
Adelaide Oval Hotel
On Tuesday morning, The Advertiser reported on my plans to move for Council to refer the Adelaide Oval Hotel proposal to the Commonwealth Government, under the provisions of the EPBC Act 1999 for consideration as an action which may impact on the National Heritage Listing of the Adelaide Parklands and City Layout. You can read the story here.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) provides a mechanism to protect nationally and internationally important flora, fauna and heritage places. Projects that impact on our heritage places should be referred to the federal government for consideration under the act.
In 2008 the Parklands were included on the National Heritage List in recognition of their importance to South Australians and the nation more broadly. In my opinion, projects that threaten this status should not proceed.
It is baffling that neither the SMA nor State Government referred their Hotel proposal to the Commonwealth for consideration of the heritage implications. After publication of The Advertiser’s story, the SMA revealed that they now plan to refer the proposal themselves. This is win for those who care about environmental protection and should have occurred to begin with.
Council noted the referral and reserves its right to refer the matter if the SMA does not do so. I will continue to follow this matter closely and do what I can to oppose the commercialisation of our public land.
Additionally, Councillor Moran stated that she will be bringing her motion to encourage the SMA to consider the 88 O’connell Street site as an alternative hotel location, to the next Council meeting.
- Notes that the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure is exploring options to legalise e-scooters on public roads and footpaths, which may include a temporary exemption for e-scooter share operators to facilitate a trial during Adelaide’s 2019 festival season.
- Delegates authority to the CEO to develop a temporary permit for up to two e-scooter share program operators to facilitate a trial in the City of Adelaide (should the State grant a temporary exemption for e-scooter share operators to facilitate a trial) including, but not limited to, considerations of safety, placement of scooters, monitoring fleet, complaints process for inappropriately located bikes, and number of e-scooters in each program.
I’m excited by this idea and hope that the Government will give it the green light! You can read more about the concept here. Councillor Hyde’s motion was supported unanimously.
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me sharing their views about the potential extension of the licence for the pontoon on the River Torrens. I conducted a poll on my Facebook page. Of 322 respondents, 53 per cent were in favour of an extension and 47 per cent were against. I welcome ongoing feedback on this and other Council issues.
If I can assist you with a local issue, please do not hesitate to contact me on: R.Simms@adelaidecitycouncil.com.au or 0466 829 909.
I am based in Town Hall on Tuesdays. If you would like to arrange a time to meet please let me know!
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Please note, the views in this newsletter are my own and do not purport to be those of Adelaide City Council.