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April 14, 2022

Lucy Hood’s vision on strengthening the city

Meet the new representative for the seat of Adelaide in SA Parliament’s House of Assembly, who, in opposition, has campaigned to save a pair of city trees, an old pool and the city's pubs.

  • Words and pictures: Angela Skujins

In between her time working in policy and a stint at The Advertiser, Lucy Hood pulled pints at a pub in London.

The two-year period managing Narrowboat in Regent’s Canal from 2008-10 taught her to be humble.

“It’s physically really hard work,” says Lucy, who is a mother of two and was recently elected to the South Australian House of Assembly in the seat of Adelaide.

“You can just be that friendly face for someone to talk to – and particularly in London, where people do live in much higher density, your pub is almost like an extension of your lounge room.”

I’ve run a pub during a global financial crisis, but it had nothing – absolutely nothing – on what hospitality businesses have had to put up with here.
—Lucy Hood

Instead of catching up for a pint, we meet the city’s new state representative for a coffee.

It’s Tuesday, 5 April, almost three weeks after Lucy’s political victory (which she celebrated teary-eyed at Labor’s Adelaide Oval party, walking out to a pack of reporters soundtracked by Alicia Keys’ ‘Girl on Fire’).

One of her regular coffee spots in the city is DAYJOB on Halifax Street, which is just around the corner from SA Labor Party HQ at 141 Gilles Street. Other favourites include Coffylosophy, Queen of Tarts, and Ballaboosta, where she loves “dropping in to say hello to everyone”.

Her go-to pubs include the King’s Head (particularly back when it was run by her friend, Gareth Lewis), and the Arab Steed on Hutt Street.

It was while working in pubs during the Global Financial Crisis, while living in London, that Lucy gained insight into how massive crises affect working class people.

“We had a lot of people coming in who [had] just been made redundant from their jobs,” she explains.

“We had middle-aged men coming in having just lost their job in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis, not thinking whether they’d be able to work again, and you were the first person they’d talk to.

“Angel Islington was really a fascinating area for that, because it did have council housing estates, as well as these incredible townhouses – little rows of homes where perhaps more affluent people within the area live.”

The Naracoorte-born and now Adelaide-based politician has three years’ experience working as a News Corp journalist, and has worked for various Labor ministers and premiers for just over a decade. But she says her hospitality experience, too, will inform her decision-making for business owners during the current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to polling day, the Labor Party promised a lot of things to South Australians, should they form government.

One such promise was an ambitious plan to revive live music. The multi-pronged resurrection, announced on 4 March, involves rolling out a $3.25m grant program aimed at encouraging bands to play live. This includes $400 vouchers to pay musicians to play in small bars, restaurants and clubs.

Event organisers who had gigs cancelled by state or federal government health restrictions, or had their capacity slashed by 50 per cent, would be able to apply for a $250,000 grant. A Labor press release says this was part of a larger $5m insurance scheme to limit financial losses associated with running major ticketed events in the state.

We ask Lucy where the Labor Party is at with this promise, and she says the grants will be allocated in the next financial year.

“I’ve run a pub during a global financial crisis, but it had nothing – absolutely nothing – on what hospitality businesses have had to put up with here,” she says.

“My friend Gaz (Gareth Lewis) has tried to put on the Beer & BBQ Festival, and time and time again, a different wave has come through on that.

“People like Andres from Fat Controller have just faced the most incredible uphill battles.”

Lucy says Labor will invest in magnet events, such as the Adelaide Fringe and the Adelaide 5000, to make them bigger, better and shinier in order to attract interstate guests. This, and pumping money into that pool of live music funding.

On the topic of promises, we probe Lucy about some of her other pledges.

On ABC Radio last month, she told listeners she would advocate to save the pair of London Plane Trees set to face the axe at the Lot Fourteen site. She says she’s “waiting to hear back” from the relevant ministers about a meeting and briefing.

Revitalising the ageing Adelaide Aquatic Centre was also high on Labor’s agenda, with Premier Peter Malinauskas making a shirtless poolside announcement on 12 February. The party said it would pay $80m to rebuild the centre if elected. The status of this project, Lucy says, is “we’ve got the commitment to consult in 100 days”.

“It’s just about preparing the council and the department, and organising some consultation and working out where that best location is,” she says.


On the Adelaide Park Lands, we mention the former Marshall Government’s plans to rezone 71ha of Adelaide Park Lands to construct – among other projects – the $662m, 15,000-capacity Riverbank Arena.

The rezoning initiative spanned Pinky Flat to the Riverbank, but also included a small pocket of Nellie Raminyemmerin Frome Park, out the back of the Adelaide Botanic High School on Frome Road.

Although Lucy is quick to criticise the former government’s plans for the Park Lands, saying the community was “rightly shocked, frustrated and angry” about the proposed changes, she says Labor will “maintain” the expansion of Adelaide Botanic High School and the rezoning of that land.

“That is something that we will maintain, because we do realise we need that expansion of Adelaide Botanic [High School] to cater for capacity,” she says.

“Putting Year 7 into high school did put significant pressure on a lot of those sites, so it is important that we have to have that capacity in the system.”

Before speaking to us, Lucy was a guest on north ward councillor Mary Couros’ new podcast series, All Things Adelaide City, and mentioned her desire to revitalise Hutt and Melbourne streets.

Lucy tells CityMag Hutt Street in particular is suffering from empty shopfronts and shrinking patronage, potentially due to the Royal Adelaide Hospital’s move west.

There has been public tension between the Hutt Street Traders Association and the homelessness service provider Hutt St Centre, but Lucy wants “everyone” to feel welcome in the city.

“Hutt Street should be part of that story,” she says.

Before she leaves, we ask Lucy for a photo. She’s wearing a green shirt, which is a refreshing departure from the statement Labor Red she wore during the campaign.

While she’s thrilled about her change of wardrobe, Lucy seems grateful to have spent time wearing the team colours while communicating her party’s ideas and ideals.

“I knew coming into this that I wanted the time to really get to know everyone and to show that we can make change even without being within parliament,” she says.

“We’ve done that with with things like saving the Free City Connector and starting a conversation about how we support local businesses, our hospitality sector, and support our local main streets.

“So I feel that if we can achieve that together, without even being in government, then I’m really excited to see what everyone can achieve together now that we’re in here.”

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