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June 14, 2022

‘There is no civility’: Prominent city councillor resigns

The “corrosive nature” and “relentless domination of the Team Adelaide faction” has forced central ward councillor Greg Mackie out the door, he says, in a resignation letter sent to staff and elected members today.

  • Words and pictures: Angela Skujins
  • Main image: Greg Mackie

Councillor Greg Mackie’s resignation letter, sent today at 12:36pm, was directed to Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor, elected members and CEO Clare Mockler, and comes only months out from the next council elections.

Mackie – also the CEO of the SA History Trust – said there were certain professional and personal “tipping points” which led to this decision, such as the need to find a permanent “home” for the SA History Trust following months of changed plans.

But the “overwhelming” reason for resigning “effective immediately” was due to the “corrosive nature of our current body politic”.

“I am no stranger to a contest of ideas,” Mackie said in the letter, seen by CityMag.

“Councils past, disagreement and even in-chamber intemperance were counter-balanced by the shared experience of breaking bread together on meeting nights.

“We met deliberatively on a fortnightly basis – that opportunity has been halved by you, Lord Mayor and your dominant faction.

“Special meetings that address single issues, with no opportunities to raise other business, have the effect of containing debate and diminishing diverse voices – and accountability to our constituents.”

Despite previously serving on the Adelaide City Council from 2000-2003, Mackie said this council was “controlled” by the dominant voting bloc Team Adelaide.

The result was a chamber void of “mature and respectful exchange”.

“I lament that my second time as an Elected Member over the last two years has been most unpleasant,” Mackie said.

“There is no civility, and certain members of the dominant faction ostracise those not of their ilk, triggering other reaction – and on it goes.

“The considerable effort made is cancelled out by the relentless domination of the Team Adelaide faction, and this has become the main game.

“The absence of mature and respectful exchange is alarming to anyone who believes in democratic principles, but not something that one independent member can address or remedy.”

The shock resignation comes just months before the Adelaide City Council general elections in November, but a City of Adelaide spokesperson said the announcement would not trigger a supplementary election.

Verschoor refuted Mackie’s claims about the reduction of meetings, telling CityMag councillors continued to meet the same number of times as was done in the past.

“When we moved from fortnightly meetings to monthly meetings in 2019, we added an additional Committee meeting, so Councillors could ask questions of administration ahead of making a decision at Council meetings,” she said.

“This process has improved our decision-making, giving elected members more time to make informed decisions in the best interests of our community.”

Verschoor said her job as the lord mayor and principal member of the council was to provide leadership and guidance — a job she takes “very seriously”.

“I encourage and fully support debate, differing views and opinions, that is what underpins our democratic process; however, we must ensure we establish and maintain respectful relations with employees and each other at all times,” she said.

“Council Members must take responsibility for their own conduct and behaviour, and they must be mindful of the impact that their actions can have on others.”

Councillor Phil Martin. This picture: Tony Lewis


Independent-aligned elected member and north ward councillor Phil Martin sent his own letter this morning at 9:13am.

Directed to Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor but copying in elected members, Martin asked Verschoor to reflect on how their workplace had become “toxic”.

“I have written privately to you and to the CEO on many occasions to express my concern for the health and well being of elected members and, in response, I have been told that the Council has no responsibility to provide a safe workplace for elected members, only to staff,” he said in the letter, seen by CityMag. 

He said the “the divisive and cruel brand of politics that have been practised in this term of council”, under the domination of Team Adelaide, had had a “serious impact on the well-being” of those not aligned to the faction.

In 2020, Martin was identified by EMA Legal in a bombshell culture report – known formally as the Confidential Cultural Investigation Final Report – as one of the key individuals responsible for Adelaide Town Hall’s toxic culture.

Martin referenced the culture report in this recent letter, but said the document was “repeatedly tampered with” and an “absolute denial of procedural fairness.”

“The circumstances were and have been cloaked in a confidentiality order your Team Adelaide proposed and endorsed and which will not expire for many years,” he said.

“That injustice continues.”

He also said there had been “attacks” on elected members by staff, alleging a member of the administration had verbally “abused” a councillor during a public function.

“Despite the matter being witnessed by the CEO and subsequently raised at a high level, nothing happened,” he alleged.

A City of Adelaide spokesperson told CityMag in a statement mechanisms for investigating staff behaviour was available but no formal complaint had been received.

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