Councillor’s Update – March 2020

Dear friends,

Welcome to my first newsletter of this year.  This provides a summary of some of the matters Council has been working on since January.

Without question, 2020 has been challenging for us all. The bushfire crisis had a devastating impact on the South Australian community and now the coronavirus pandemic is impacting on our lives in unprecedented ways.

Over the last few weeks, Adelaide City Council has met to discuss the impact of the virus on city operations. Public facilities like the library and Aquatic Centre have now been closed in order to comply with social distancing requirements. Council administration have initiated a new cleaning regime of city streets and pedestrian crossings have been set to automatic to avoid the need to press buttons.

Council has also announced a range of measures to support residents and businesses who are struggling at this time. This four million dollar support package includes:

  • 100 per cent free rent for 3 months for lesses of council owned buildings
  • 100 per cent free rent for 3 months for Adelaide Central Market tenants
  • Increased flexibility for on street parking
  • Facilitated access to rates hardship provisions
  • Increased support for vulnerable people in the city

I know that this a frightening time for many in our community. If there is anything I can do to assist you, please let me know.  While I will not be meeting face to face with constituents over this period, I am available to chat over phone. So please feel free to give me a call.

I wish you and your loved ones all the best.


Council Meeting – 29 January

Houssam Abiad resigns

Houssam Abiad was first elected to Council in 2010 and was a key figure in the formation of the ‘Team Adelaide Faction.’ He announced his resignation in January. You can read more about his resignation here.  I congratulate Houssam on his service to the city and wish him all the best for this next chapter.

A by-election will be held later this year for the vacant position in central ward. You can read more about what this means for Council here. 

Town Hall fireworks

Clr Khera made news headlines when he called Councillors supporting a review of fireworks “Osama Green Laden.” The bizarre and offensive comments were made during a debate on Clr Hyde’s motion to consider alternatives to fireworks for future New Year’s Eve events (eg drones and lasers). Clr Moran has also called for a re-consideration of fireworks in the city given the ongoing bushfire crisis. I supported this call. Council commissioned a report from administration on options.

Council blocks merit based board appointments

I moved for Council to end the culture of cronyism in Town Hall by adopting a merit based board appointments system. You can read more about the push here. The move was blocked by the Team Adelaide faction, with only Clrs Martin and Donovan in support (Clr Moran was absent from the meeting but has previously spoken in support of the measure).

Green light to reduce emissions

Council backed my call to lobby the state government to electrify buses and encourage e-taxis in the city to reduce emissions. Administration will also identify opportunities to electrify rubbish trucks and heavy vehicles as part of this coming budget process.

Free parking permits to assist those affected by the bushfire crisis

Council backed my motion to promote free parking permits for those affected by the bushfire crisis staying in the city at this time. The motion was backed by all Councillors.

Council Meeting 11 February

New artists village for the Fringe

One of the key challenges for artists coming to Adelaide during the Fringe season is the affordability of accommodation. To address this, the Adelaide Fringe has been calling for an ‘artists village’ to offer low cost housing. Council backed my motion to work with the Adelaide Fringe to identify potential sites for such a village in the city (not Parklands). Administration will report back by June 2020. You can read more about the initiative here.

More recycling, green and e-waste bins in the city

Council backed my motion to investigate increasing the number of green, e-waste and recycling bins in public spaces as part of the coming budget.

Improving the accessibility of city events

Adelaide hosts a variety of activities and events, however these are not always accessible to all members of our community, in particular people with disabilities. Many events do not offer services for the hearing impaired or access to appropriate changing facilities. Council supported my motion to provide access to grants and support to event organisers to make their events more accessible, as part of this budget cycle. This could include access to ‘Marveloo’ facilities.

Council Meeting 10 March

Council refuses to dump Crows’ plan

Councillor Anne Moran moved to end the Crows’ unsolicited bid for the Park Lands but councillors associated with ‘Team Adelaide’ (Hyde, Knoll, Hou, Abrihimzedeh and Couros) and Clr Khera opposed the move, arguing Council should await the outcome of public consultation. I have consistently argued that the consultation is flawed and fails to consider the range of options available to save our Aquatic Centre. Consultation has now closed and the outcome will come to Council for consideration. I remain concerned that this proposal for a private take-over of our parklands is not in the public interest. You can read more about the debate here.

Adelaide reinstates global climate ambition

Council backed my call to reinstate its target to be one of “the Worlds’ First Carbon Neutral Cities by 2025” into its Stategic Plan. The move was backed unanimously. You can read more about the debate here.

Aim to be nation’s first zero waste city

Council backed a motion from Cr Hyde to become the nation’s first zero waste city, as part of its Strategic Plan. I welcomed the move and Adelaide has a proud history of leading the way with recycling and waste management. You can read more here. 

Moran and Martin dumped from key committees in factional play

Just a month after blocking my proposal for a merit based board appointment process, Team Adelaide Councillors voted to dump independent Councillors Anne Moran and Phil Martin from key committees. Anne Moran was removed from the Council Assessment Panel after 25 years of service and Phil Martin was removed from the CEO Review Committee and the Audit Committee. Alex Hyde, also strengthened his monopoly on paid board commitments with his elevation to the Adelaide Central Market Authority. I will continue to speak out against the growing culture of cronyism in Town Hall.

East West Bikeway scuttled

Sadly the East West Bikeway faces even more hurdles after a motion from Clr Helen Donovan was amended beyond recognition by Clr Hyde. Clr Donovan’s proposal to progress the East West Bikeway on Flinders Franklin was defeated, in favour of more delays and an examination of other options. I fear Council is now at risk of losing its funding agreement with the State Government and bikeways face an uncertain future during this term of Council. You can read more about the debate here.

Drones and lasers for New Years

Council will trial drones and lazers as part of a revamped new Years’ Eve offering. The move is part of a shift away from fireworks. You can read more here. 

North Adelaide lighting gets go-ahead

Last year I asked administration to cost options for lighting on O’Connell Street and Melbourne Street. Administration presented a range of options at last month’s committee meeting.  I supported a motion from Clr Couros to prioritise ‘quick wins’ in this budget cycle and look forward to seeing what is delivered.

Peoples’ Panel blocked

To improve community input into our strategic planning, I proposed that Council establish a Peoples’ Panel to make recommendations to Council on how best to achieve the outcomes of the Stategic Plan. My motion requested that administration propose options for consideration. The motion was blocked by Team Adelaide councillors who argued they are already representative of the community… I’ll let you be the judge!

Decision to double rates on vacant land deferred

My proposal to double rates charged on vacant land to discourage land-banking in the city was deferred to discussion at a future workshop. Watch my interview with Channel 7 News for more information about the proposal.

Are midnight meetings good for democracy?

In my opinion the shift to monthly meetings has been a disaster for local democracy. Key decisions on emerging issues are deferred and elected members and staff are forced to discuss key issues in the early hours of the morning. Community members who want to follow the discussions are completely disenfranchised. Steph Richards for InDaily has written this piece on topic. I’d welcome your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Councillor’s Update – March 2020

  1. Great mews letter Rob
    Really informative for Council matters and the links for more in depth reading/InDaily articles etc work well.
    Keep up the good work snd for keeping us informed not just the dry facts but including your political insights as well that makes the newsletter sll the mire interesting to read.
    Sandy Wilkinson

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