The last 6 months have been challenging in Town Hall as the city has grappled with the implications of the coronavirus pandemic. The shift to a monthly meeting regime has continued to impact on Council’s business, with heated debates often spilling into the early hours of the morning.
I have continued to advocate for a response to the pandemic that puts our city’s people and environment first. Sadly many of my ideas have been resisted by the conservative ‘Team Adelaide’ faction.
Some of the key debates and discussions in Town Hall are summarised below.
Council pushes ahead with Hutt Street Centre review
In June, I moved to revoke Council’s decision to back a pointless review into the Hutt Street Centre:
The decision to review the Hutt Street’s Centre’s compliance with planning regulations in the midst of an economic crisis is appalling and out of step with the community’s expectations of its City Council. My move to abandon the review was opposed by Councillors Hyde, Couros, Hou, Knoll, Khera and Moran. The vote was tied on the Council floor and so, sadly, the Lord Mayor exercised her vote against my motion and in favour of proceeding with the review. You can read more about the decision here.
Community grants slashed
Council approved a range of community grants over the value of $10,000. This included grants to organisations working with some of our city’s most vulnerable people, like the Hutt St Centre, Catherine House and Uniting Communities. Many of these grants were to be for three years, but Councillor Khera moved to restrict funding to just one year – pending the outcome of a review. This amendment was supported by Clrs Hyde, Abrahimzadeh, Couros, Hou and Knoll. I was disgusted that organisations will now face more uncertainty about funding during this pandemic and argued that the grants should have been approved for this 3 year cycle.
Council to advocate for city’s arts community
The arts and cultural sectors make an enormous contribution to community life in our city. A large number of workers in these sectors are casual workers and visa holders – who have been left out of the Government’s JobKeeper program. I moved for Council to call on the federal government to expand JobKeeper to include workers from the arts and cultural sectors and introduce a support package. The motion was supported by Council and the Lord Mayor was asked to write to the Prime Minister on the issue.
More exercise equipment for the Park Lands?
The pandemic has seen more people exercising in our Park Lands than ever before. I was delighted that Council backed my call for administration to investigate cost-effective options to increase the availability of exercise equipment in public spaces (eg: chin up bars) to encourage people to continue actively using our Park Lands.
Automated pedestrian crossings abandoned
In March, Council introduced automated pedestrian crossings to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
Sadly Councillor Hyde successfully overturned the measure (with the support of Clrs Abrahimzadeh, Couros, Hou, Khera and Knoll) arguing that it was disruptive for cars. I have received lots of feedback from the community about this and share your disappointment. I will continue to argue for transport policy that prioritises pedestrian safety.
Another transparency measure blocked
To help promote transparency in Town Hall, I proposed that administration publish the official diaries of the Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and Councillors on the City of Adelaide website in the form of a table/list of daily official commitments. Sadly the motion was blocked with only Councillors Donovan, Mackie, Martin and Moran in support. I will continue to fight for Councillors to be more transparent with electors about their work.
Late night meetings continue
Council continues to break records for sitting times with many meetings spilling into the early hours of the morning. After a move to start meetings during business hours was defeated, Clr Martin proposed that meetings be capped at 4 hours. Sadly, the Team Adelaide faction opposed the move and have continued to argue for the failed monthly meeting structure. Councillors Donovan, Mackie, Martin, Moran and I backed Clr Martin’s call.
Council knocks-back rate-waiver for people who are unemployed
Clr Martin proposed a plan for rate relief as part of Council’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Councillor Martin’s motion was taken in parts and I argued for owner occupiers who are on JobSeeker to be provided with a 100 per cent rate waiver for a quarter. Sadly the move was opposed by a majority of Councillors, with only Councillors Mackie, Martin, Moran and I in favour.
Driver’s Month insanity
Councillor Khera proposed Council deliver a ‘Driver’s Month’ initiative to encourage more cars into the CBD. The plans involve signage encouraging more cars, lottery prizes for people using the Parking App and increasing the speed-limit to 60 km/hr around the Park Lands.
The idea is completely out of step with Council’s plans to be a carbon neutral city and has exposed Town Hall to public ridicule. Bizarrely, it was backed by Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor Hyde) and Councillors Abrahimzadeh, Couros, Hou, Khera and Knoll.
You can read more about Driver’s Month here:
Council calls on Government to increase JobSeeker
More than 40 local Councils around the country have called on the Federal Government to provide a permanent and adequate increase in the jobseeker payment. I was pleased that my motion for Adelaide City Council to join them won unanimous support.
Keep fossil fuels out of cycling
It’s absurd that a fossil fuel company, Santos is the naming rights sponsor of the Tour Down Under, the biggest cycling event in the Southern Hemisphere. This event is about promoting clean, green living and shouldn’t be used to promote the fossil fuel industry.
I moved for Council to request that the Lord Mayor write to Events South Australia, urging them to seek the support of clean corporate partners that are not linked to fossil fuel industries for the Tour Down Under in the future. Sadly this motion was defeated with only Councillors Martin, Moran and I in favour.
Council to investigate free public transport for the CBD
I moved that Council request that administration prepare a report with options to offer free bus, train and tram tickets to encourage visitors to the city.
Following the community backlash against the absurd ‘Driver’s Month’ initiative, I argued that Council needed to look at initiatives that encourage active, sustainable transport. I was delighted that my motion secured the support of a majority of Councillors. It was backed by Councillors Couros, Donovan, Mackie, Martin and Moran and opposed by Councillors Hyde, Abrahimzadeh, Hou, Khera and Knoll. You can read more about the discussion here and here.
Free cycling lessons
I was pleased that Council also backed my call to offer free cycling lessons until the end of the year to encourage cycling and improve safety. The courses will be offered for a period of three months. You can sign-up here.
Council digs in on Driver’s Month
Councillor Moran tried to revoke Council’s decision to hold ‘Driver’s Month’ in November. Sadly the move was blocked by Councillors Hyde, Abrahimzadeh, Couros, Hou, Khera and Knoll and the initiative will now go ahead as planned.
Hutt Street Centre review released
The review commissioned by conservative Councillors into the Hutt St Centre has found that the centre is compliant with planning regulations. I remain outraged that the Hutt St Centre has been put through months of uncertainty as a result of this process. I hope that conservative Councillors will now drop this crusade and support the centre’s vital work. You can read more here.
Not more back-peddling in Town Hall