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“I’m not coming back”: Moran to boycott council meetings

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Veteran Adelaide City Councillor Anne Moran says she will not be returning to the chamber in the foreseeable future after walking out of a heated council meeting last night.

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Moran and fellow councillor Phil Martin abandoned last night’s meeting during a debate to review parking changes to allow workers at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to park closer to the site at night.

The motion, moved by Martin and seconded by Moran, followed complaints from nurses and other hospital workers that they were forced to walk long distances at night due to recently-imposed parking limits recommended during the previous council term.

During the debate, Moran said the restrictions imposed near the hospital were “only partially the plan that the former council anticipated” and had made “so many people unhappy”.

“We couldn’t change the parking plan swiftly because it was just before (council) caretaker mode,” she said.

“The nurses need us to help now.”

Martin, who also served on the former council, said the parking changes “were not part of the plan I thought it would be” and had prompted “a lot of angst” from nurses.

But the proposal did not have the support of south ward councillor Alexander Hyde, who said Martin and Moran helped introduce the parking restrictions they were last night fighting to oppose.

“My trust in the ability of some councillors to advocate on this issue has almost irreparably been eroded,” he told the chamber.

“These aren’t the administration’s parking changes at all, these are changes that have been brought about by councillors based in North Adelaide and so for them to come out and say that these are someone else’s changes, that all the furore that has been created is not their fault and it’s actually administration’s – well, I would say that is actually down-right disingenuous.

“It goes to show what happens when you absolutely bastardise the process.”

Martin interjected, claiming Hyde’s comments were a “personal attack” and a “cheap little game”.

“Lord Mayor, if you don’t stop this I’m going to walk out – he is not speaking to the motion,” he said.

Moran added: “I’m not going to put up with that abuse anymore. It’s ridiculous. Just shut up.”

Both Moran and Martin left the chamber, followed by councillors Robert Simms and Helen Donovan, who later returned

In an email sent to Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor, council staff and councillors this morning – seen by InDaily – Moran flagged she would not come back to the council “anytime soon”.

“Last night was awful,” she wrote.

“You just let Hyde (verbally) bash me repeatedly when all I was trying to do was help nurses stay safe.

“This is a horrible council where councillors trying to progress things are abused and belittled.”

Moran told InDaily this morning that she would boycott the next council meeting “for the first time in my (24-year) career” pending a review of the meeting agenda.

“I get a feeling of dread going into that council chamber now and that’s not good,” she said.

“The CEO also should be ashamed of this. He is not providing a safe workplace for councillors – the abuse goes on and on and on unchecked and the whole thing is totally out of control.

“I’m not coming back and I think I will take some time off, which some people are probably quite relieved about.

“My record is spotless but I think I need to regroup, I think the whole thing needs to be de-pressurised and Sandy needs to step up, recognise what the situation is and help with it.”

InDaily contacted the council’s CEO Mark Goldstone for comment.

Hyde said this morning that his words “merely reflected on the history of these parking changes”.

“Councillors Moran and Martin have clearly mishandled this parking experiment for some time and so it’s fair that I question their judgement on the matter and their repeated attempts at ad hoc, bandaid fixes.”

Moran described last night’s meeting as “incredibly vicious”, with factional disputes remerging in the chamber.

The Team Adelaide majority faction – including Hyde, Deputy Lord Mayor Houssam Abiad, Arman Abrahimzadeh, Simon Hou, Mary Couros and Franz Knoll – voted against Martin’s parking motion.

However, the vote was not binding as Verschoor lapsed the motion following Moran and Martin’s departure from the chamber.

Team Adelaide last night also voted down a proposal by non-Team Adelaide affiliate Robert Simms for the council to halt discussions with the Adelaide Football Club over its plans to build a new sporting facility at the ageing Aquatic Centre until the council has completed its “needs analysis” for the site.

“This council is dysfunctional,” Martin told the chamber.

“I say to Team Adelaide, you are in deep trouble with the ratepayers of this city and the people of South Australia.”

Knoll retorted that the “vilification of individuals and groups and sporting clubs… is unnecessary”.

“Let us not try and influence our constituents with things that aren’t real yet,” he said.

“This is still fiction, so let us leave it at that.”

Abiad said non-Team Adelaide affiliates were “scaring the community into a panic”.

“The majority of this council – call it Team Adelaide, whatever you want – seven members of this council disagree with them and the squeaky wheel has collapsed.”

Verschoor told InDaily this morning that it was “disappointing” to see Moran and Martin leave the chamber last night.

“There was some poor behaviour from councillors last night, however it is not apparent that councillor Hyde’s contribution to the debate could have justified the mover and seconder leaving the chamber,” she said.

“We live stream and record every meeting and I would encourage people to look at the behaviour of the meeting as a whole, then make a decision themselves about whether the two councillors were justified in taking offence.”

Last night was not the first time Moran has been involved with council infighting this term.

In May, InDaily reported Moran was involved in an alleged corridor confrontation with Mary Couros after claims she referred to Couros’ de-facto husband as her “boyfriend” and accused her of voting en bloc.

Moran was also subject to a code of conduct complaint lodged by Arman Abrahimzadeh over claims she called him a “dickhead” during a council meeting.

That complaint was withdrawn in August after both councillors failed to settle their dispute over a mediation.

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