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November 22, 2021

Councillors will try to overturn arena support after Hyde wins Liberal preselection

In the wake of Adelaide city councillor Alex Hyde winning Liberal preselection for the seat for Waite on the weekend, two elected members will attempt to overturn the council’s support for the party’s key re-election promise: the Riverbank Arena.

  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Main image: A render of the Marshall Government's Riverbank Arena

Adelaide City councillor Anne Moran told CityMag today that as soon as councillor Alex Hyde leaves the Adelaide City Council to pursue his state election campaign, she will introduce a rescission motion to overturn the council’s support for the Marshall Government’s $662m Riverbank Arena.

“The minute he goes on leave I will be putting that rescission motion up,” she said.

“I would like to put it up tomorrow, but because I know that Team Adelaide truthfully votes on bloc, I have no chance.

“Without the leader (Hyde) there, I’m hoping that it will free up the debate.”

Councillor Phil Martin – vying for Lord Mayor at next year’s Adelaide City Council election – said he would today write to City of Adelaide CEO Clare Mockler requesting legal advice regarding the validity of Hyde’s support for the arena.

“The question that should be asked is was the vote still valid in light of the Liberal Party subsequently endorsing him and endorsing him so convincingly?” he said.

“Team Adelaide’s vote for the Libs’ arena would probably have gone down if Alex had not been in the room.”

On Saturday, south ward councillor Hyde was preselected as the Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Waite.

Hyde told CityMag in a statement he’d worked with the Waite community on local issues “for many years” and his candidacy was an extension of this work.

“My campaign has already started and it was a delight to be out and about all weekend chatting to locals and attending community events,” he said.

The news came almost two weeks after the councillor – and leader of Adelaide City Council’s majority Team Adelaide faction – voted in council to support the 15,000-seat Riverbank Arena, proposed to be built in the park lands on Helen Mayo Park.

The arena, along with other subzones and rezoning proposals included in the initial State Government’s Riverbank Code Amendment, was originally rejected in full by the Adelaide City Council in October.

At this initial debate, Hyde excused himself from the room after councillors Moran and Phil Martin referred to him as “Member for Waite”.

Hyde – also staffer to federal Liberal MP Nicolle Flint – told the chamber there was an “actual” conflict of interest in the debate as he “may suffer a detriment or gain and benefit in the future, depending on what position I may hold.”

Hyde initially declared a conflict “out of an abundance of caution and a desire to always do the right thing,” he told CityMag.

But the arena dispute was brought back into the chamber in November by central ward councillor Jessy Khera, who claimed the initial conclusion was “suboptimal” and needed revision.

Khera called for the decision to be rescinded, and for the councillor’s support regarding a new motion.

The new motion opposed the overall rezoning of the Adelaide Park Lands, but acknowledged council administration advice that “an arena, with active uses at ground level may be appropriate, but only if there is no net loss to Park Lands”.

During this vote Hyde remained in the room, saying “at worse” he had a “perceived” conflict of interest, not an “actual” conflict – a decision that helped the arena get over the line with a slim margin of six to five.

Hyde told CityMag that since that first vote he sought formal advice “and I have acted in line with it”.

Moran said while she was not casting “aspersions”, “the timing was interesting”.

According to the Local Government Act, if a council member stands for election in an office outside the one presently held, the latter office becomes vacant at the end of the election.

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