Councillor’s Update (Edition 2)

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Congratulations to Sarah Boese (pictured) on her stunning mural, ‘Pandora’s Box’ unveiled outside of the Box Factory on December 1. 

Welcome

Welcome to the latest edition of my e-Newsletter. On Tuesday night, at our last meeting of Council for the year, we dealt with a range of issues including protection of the Park Lands, divestment from fossil fuels and the use of the old Le Cornu site. Key discussions and outcomes are summarised below:

Board and Committee appointments and Council Governance

At the meeting Council made the following Board and Committee appointments:

  • Central Market Authority: Cllr Houssam Abiad
  • Rundle Mall Management Authority: Cllr Franz Knoll
  •  Festival Centre Board: Lord Mayor Verschoor, Cllrs Khera and Simms (Minister will choose one name)
  • Adelaide Parklands Authority: Cllrs Moran, Martin, Donovan and Simms (with Lord Mayor presiding)
  • Capital City Committee: Lord Mayor, Cllrs Abiad, Hyde and Donovan (proxy)
  • Reconciliation Committee: Cllrs Donovan, Knoll and Simms
  • Council Audit Committee: Cllr Martin

A range of other Boards and Committee appointments will be made in the New Year.

Council also resolved to return to a Committee Structure which will meet fortnightly, between Council meetings.

Divestment from Fossil Fuels

In April 2015 during my first term on Council I proposed that Council investigate divesting from fossil fuels. This was pursued again by Councillor Phil Martin in August of this year and Council resolved to prepare another report on the impact of giving preference to banks and other financial agencies which do not invest in the fossil fuel industry. This would only apply where there is a competitive rate of return and in compliance with Council’s treasury policy.

Administration researched the matter and recommended that divestment be adopted as part of a revision to the Treasury Policy presented to Tuesday night’s meeting.

Given there would be no financial disadvantage to the City of Adelaide by adopting this policy, I was optimistic that Council would finally divest from fossil fuels. I moved that the revised Treasury Policy be adopted (seconded Councillor Martin). Unfortunately, Councillor Khera moved to amend the motion so that the Treasury Policy be adopted with divestment from fossil fuels omitted. His motion was seconded by Councillor Houssam Abiad. Councillors Franz Knoll, Simon Hou, Mary Couros, Arman Abrahimzadeh and Alexander Hyde supported the amendment and hence defeated the motion to divest from fossil fuels.

I thank Councillors Martin, Moran and Donovan for their support of divestment. Indaily have published a useful summary of the debate here.

This outcome is very disappointing and represents a missed opportunity for Council. By backing Administration’s recommendation, Adelaide could have joined 33 other Councils across the country (including Melbourne, Freemantle and Hobart) in divesting from fossil fuels and become the first Council in SA to take this stance. Despite this setback, I will continue to pursue this matter and look for opportunities for Council to lead the way in the area of environmental responsibility.

Adelaide Oval Hotel

Cllr Anne Moran moved that “Council oppose the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority Plan to build a hotel on the Park Lands and asks the Lord Mayor to immediately write to the Premier and Members of State Cabinet setting out Council’s position on the development while also foreshadowing the inclusion of the matter on the agenda of the next meeting of the Capital City Committee.” I seconded the motion.

As stated at the meeting, I consider the plan to be “commercialisation of our public space, bank rolled by the State Government.” The Advertiser provided a useful summary of the debate which can be accessed here. The motion was carried unanimously and it is encouraging that Council has taken such a strong position.

88 O’Connell Street (the former Le Cornu site)

Cllr Couros moved two motions in relation to the use of 88 O’Connell Street in North Adelaide (the former Le Cornu site). The first related to looking at ways to open up car parking at 88 O’Connell Street and the second was a proposal “for administration to prepare a report on how a temporary activation, similar to a box part concept, could be established… to attract complementary and non-competing operators to North Adelaide.”

I asked administration about the kinds of businesses that would be considered “non-competing” given the existing offering on O’Connell Street (retail, coffee shops, wine bars and restaurants). I am also concerned about the potential of any temporary activation to delay development of the site. I decided not to support the motion on that basis but will await the additional information  provided in the future report with interest.

I did not support the motion in relation to car parking as I understand residents have some concerns about the impact of this.

Improved Waste Management

Cllr Donovan moved that administration “prepare a report reviewing waste management services provided by Council, prepares a waste management policy for Council which provides options for waste services (including organics) for city businesses (the policy would also address applicable fee for service models, including reducing fees for strata groups).”

I supported the motion and look forward to seeing Councils’ report. There are lots of opportunities to improve waste management in the city (including recycling!) and I congratulate Cllr Donovan for putting this on the agenda. The motion was passed unanimously.

City of Adelaide Golf Links

Councillor Martin proposed that Council “publicly release an extract of the Golf Course Master Plan… which is currently the subject of a confidentiality order.” Given community concern about the future of the Park Lands, I supported Councillor Martin’s motion so that the community can view the draft plans. More background on Cllr Martin’s proposal is provided in this Advertiser story:  Unfortunately the motion was defeated on the Council floor.

Still waiting for a Skate Park?

Adelaide’s skating community is still waiting for a permanent skate park and this starting to look a lot like ‘waiting for godo!’… I asked Administration to provide an update on efforts to secure State Government funding for a permanent site.

Administration advised that a draft City Skate Strategy is currently being finalised to present to the Parklands Authority and Council in March/April next year. Once a site is selected, Council will have further discussions with the State Government about funding and design and construction will be sought for 2019/2020. I will continue to pursue this issue in the New Year.

Edmund Wright House

Like many residents and ratepayers I was saddened to see that the State Government has decided to sell the historic Edmund Wright House on King William Street. A city ratepayer recently contacted me about littering and graffiti on the building.

I asked Administration to provide an update on the current status of the ‘for sale’ process and whether they had advocated for the government to put in place a maintenance program to prevent further damage.

Administration advised that tender for the property closed on 4 October and that no formal announcement has been made. Administration will engage with the relevant State Government agency and raise Council concerns about the presentation of the building.

Bikeway Network Implementation?

Cllr Donovan asked administration to provide an update on the progress of the Bikeway Network Implementation Plan as outlined in the Smart Move Action Plan. Administration advised that they are working their way through the Smart Move Interim Action Plan (2016-18) actions and the preparation of the Bikeways Network Implementation will be considered as part of the 2019-20 business plan and budget.
I share Cllr Donovan’s interest in this area and will continue to advocate for more bikeways in the city.

Crows on the Park Lands?

You may have seen media reports about the Crows seeking to move their Club House onto the Adelaide Park Lands. I do not believe that the Parklands should be privatised in this way. As I said to the Advertiser: “I’m sick to death of private enterprise trying to sink their teeth into our parklands.” At this stage, Council has received no formal proposal from the Crows.

It is clear that privitisation and commercialisation of our public space will be a key issue for this term of Council.

New Contact Details

My new Council phone and email have been set up. 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.

From January, I will be based in Town Hall on Tuesdays. If you would like to arrange a time to meet please let me know!

Remember to subscribe to this newsletter please scroll down and enter your email address into the bottom left of this page.

Season’s Greetings!

As this is my last communication for the year, I want to wish you and your family a safe and happy Christmas season. I look forward to working with you in 2019!

Disclaimer

Please note, the views in this newsletter are my own and do not purport to be those of Adelaide City Council.

Councillor’s Update (Edition 1)

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Welcome

Welcome to the first edition of my e-Newsletter! I will be issuing these after each Council meeting as a way of updating the community on my work. If you have any suggestions about how these newsletters can be improved, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The last few weeks have been busy and rewarding as new Councillors have been setting up our offices, undertaking key training and meeting with Council staff.  It’s an honour to be able to represent our community once more and I’m looking forward to a positive and productive 4 years!

The new Council was sworn in on the 22nd of November and met for the first time on Tuesday the 27th of November. Key Council decisions and discussions are summarised below:

Cenotaph Removal

Dr David Faber gave a deputation to Council about the removal of the Australasian Dardanelles Cenotaph from the park lands. The Cenotaph was erected in 1915 to honour soldiers from Unley and Adelaide who fought during World War I and is of great significace to many in the local community. I am concerned about its removal and will continue to argue for greater community consultation in relation to these matters.

Corporate Facilities Pass

Council approved the continuation of the ‘Corporate Facilities Pass’ for former Councillors (and Lord Mayors) who have served a cumulative 8 years on Council. The pass provides free access to the U-Park, Acquatic Centre and Golf Course and has been provided by previous Councils. Council will hold a workshop in the new year looking at other ways to acknowledge community service. Given increasing community concern about these kinds of arrangements, I look forward to the opportunity to discuss alternatives that may better meet community expectations.

Deputy Lord Mayor

Central Ward Councillor, Houssam Abiad was elected Deputy Lord Mayor (unopposed) for the period of November 2018 – November 2019. I congratulate him on his appointment.

Sustainable Events Guidelines 

There was some discussion about the approval of the Draft Sustainable Events Guidelines. These guidelines set ambitious targets around sustainability for event organisers and provide practical tips on how to make events more environmentally friendly. Some elected members expressed concern that the guidelines will be too onerous for business, however Councillors Martin, Donovan and I argued that these are not mandatory and have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders. In the end, Council agreed to adopt the guidelines and a workshop will be held next year to discuss their implementation. I consider this to be a win for the environment and this best practice guide will hopefully serve as a template for other Councils to follow.

South West Community Centre

Council approved the execution of a lease with the new owners of the South West Community Centre. The lease will continue until September 2020. This is a great outcome and testament to a strong campaign run by many in the community. I will continue to argue fo the protection of the centre in the long term, beyond 2020.

Adelaide Oval Hotel?

You may have seen media reports about a proposal to add a hotel to the Adelaide Oval. The Stadium Management Authority has proposed a $42 million hotel complex be built on the eastern side. The State Government is supportive of the project and offered to loan the Authority the money to make it happen. I worry that the increasing commercialisation of this space sets a dangerous precedent for our Parklands. It also  potentially reduces foot traffic to other businesses and hotels in the city and the use of public money to fund a commercial enterprise (when public sevices are being cut!) is of serious concern.

Councillor Phil Martin asked administration about the power of Council to influence the development. Administration advised that while the State Government is required to consult with Council, we have no authority to approve or influence the proposal. This is regretable in my opinion. It is clear that there will need to be a significant community campaign to prevent such proposal from getting the green light.

New Contact Details

My new Council phone and email have been set up. 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.

Disclaimer

Please note, the views in this newsletter are my own and do not purport to be those of Adelaide City Council.

 

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Hang In There, There’s Always A Storm Before The Rainbow

The Government’s Marriage Equality Survey is deeply insulting, not only because of the tidal wave of hatred it has unleashed against people who already suffer prejudice and discrimination, but because the process itself is inherently homophobic.

Rather than dealing with Marriage Equality in the same way it deals with other contentious topics — through a parliamentary vote — the government has gone postal and thrown the LGBTQ community under the bus in the process.

Continue reading “Hang In There, There’s Always A Storm Before The Rainbow”

Turnbull Represents Failed Political System

There’s a store in my home state of South Australia called Mr Bankrupt, which ran some quite memorable TV commercials when I was a kid, “selling out fast, it’s all gotta go!”

I haven’t seen the ads for a while, and I mean no insult to the store, but in many ways the catchy jingle reminds me of our Prime Minister – ‘justice for refugees, marriage equality, action on climate change… it’s all gotta go!’ Whatever the principle, it has to be junked so that Malcolm Turnbull can hold onto his job. He really is the Mr Bankrupt of Australian politics but while he might be selling out fast, voters turned out long ago.

Continue reading “Turnbull Represents Failed Political System”

Identity Politics in the Age of Trump

I was recently watching a documentary about the Trump Presidency and saw a highly disturbing interview with a man representing an organisation called ‘Gays for Trump’. I was shocked that a gay man, someone who has presumably experienced a level of discrimination himself, could support a candidate who so clearly fans the flames of hatred and division.

Unfortunately, of course, this isn’t really that unusual. Right-wing political parties in Australia have LGBTQ members and many LGBTQ people continue to support parties that actively stymie progress on our human rights. Voters weigh up a variety of factors before casting their ballots and LGBTQ people, like all other members of the community, wear a number of different hats. We are workers, bosses, parents, brothers, sisters, partners — all of these identities colour the way in which we see ourselves and the political world.

Continue reading “Identity Politics in the Age of Trump”

Trump’s Lessons for South Australia

In 1967 Martin Luther King warned that “we must rapidly begin the transition from a thing oriented society to a person oriented society.”

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

As Donald Trump’s election sends shock-waves around the world, Martin Luther King’s words seem more prescient than ever.

Continue reading “Trump’s Lessons for South Australia”

Blocking A Plebiscite Is The Best Way To Achieve Marriage Equality

I remember my first ever Gay Pride march. I was in my mid-20s at the time. Trying to get into the after party on the streets of Adelaide, I had to negotiate my way through angry preachers waving placards linking homosexuality with murder and rape.

Even though I’d been out of the closet for a few years, the experience left me feeling shocked, angry and scared. Fast-forward nearly a decade and I shudder to think what would happen if this kind of hate was amplified by a national plebiscite on marriage equality. If these preachers weren’t just waving placards but were armed with the powerful megaphone that a plebiscite would provide.

Continue reading “Blocking A Plebiscite Is The Best Way To Achieve Marriage Equality”

Greens Push For National Water Centre

Bension Siebert, Indaily, 24 June 2016

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The research centre is the latest pledge from the Greens as next week’s July 2 federal election looms.

Under the plan, the institute would be given almost $27 million per year to conduct research on sustainable agriculture, water recycling, stormwater harvesting, water-sensitive urban design and water efficiency.

Continue reading “Greens Push For National Water Centre”

Orlando Massacre Is A Tragic Reminder Of Violence Against LGBTI People

This week, a horrific hate crime targeting a gay nightclub in Orlando has devastated LGBTI communities and their allies right across the world.

It is a stark and sobering reminder that acts of violence are still an all too real experience for many LGTBI people, even in places known for their liberal values and ideals of equality. Despite all we’ve achieved in the journey for human rights, prejudice and homophobia persist as dangerous forces in our world.

Continue reading “Orlando Massacre Is A Tragic Reminder Of Violence Against LGBTI People”

Should Religion Be Exempt From Anti-Discrimination Laws?

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Greens senator Robert Simms wants to remove religious exemptions from the Sex Discrimination Act. He says the provisions in the law allow for religious organisations to discriminate against staff or clients who are from sexual minorities. To debate the question, we talked to Senator Simms and Terry Tobin, a leading Queens Counsel and former chancellor of Notre Dame University.

Listen to the debate on the Religion and Ethics Report. 

Greens Promise To End Religious Exemptions To Sex Discrimination Act

Paul Karp, The Guardian, 17 May 2016 

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The Greens have promised to remove religious exemptions to federal anti-discrimination law and increase funding to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.

The promises are contained in broad-ranging Greens policy for LGBTI rights to be released on Tuesday by their LGBTI equality spokesman, Robert Simms, and gender identity spokeswoman, Janet Rice.

Continue reading “Greens Promise To End Religious Exemptions To Sex Discrimination Act”

It’s Time To Strengthen Our Anti-Discrimination Laws

This week we marked International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. It’s an opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come on the road to equality for LGBTI people, but also to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead.

Here in Australia we have much to be proud of. Community attitudes have changed considerably and LGBTI people are more visible than ever before. Yet despite this, the parliament continues to lag behind when it comes to eliminating discrimination under the law. Discrimination in the Marriage Act has been a hot-button political issue for many years in Australia. It is now no longer a matter of ‘if’ we will see marriage equality but ‘when.’ And hopefully we will get there without Turnbull’s $160 million plebiscite!

Continue reading “It’s Time To Strengthen Our Anti-Discrimination Laws”

Michelle Grattan talks to Robert Simms about the evolution of The Greens

The future of senator Robert Simms, one of the freshest faces in the Greens team, may hang on whether he is first or second on his party’s ticket. In his home state of South Australia, where the Nick Xenophon Team looks to be strong, the Greens face a particularly tough battle. But Simms tells Michelle Grattan he thinks the Greens have a chance of retaining their two seats. Listen to the interview here. 

 

More Action Needed To Combat Homophobia In Schools And In Parliament

I was about 10 when I was first called a “fag” and a “poof”. At that time I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t a compliment. The names had a new sting when I realised that I was gay and even though I was in the closet for my teenage years, it seemed there was no fooling the kids in the school yard. The idea of coming out and being open about my sexuality filled me with dread.

There’s no doubt that Australia has changed a lot since I was at school. There are far more gay people in public life and popular culture and differences in sexuality are discussed much more openly. That’s a wonderful thing. But unfortunately homophobia is still alive and well in the school yard and, as demonstrated last week, in parliament.

Continue reading “More Action Needed To Combat Homophobia In Schools And In Parliament”