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Haese's favoured candidates will be "very comfortable" with his policy platform

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Lord Mayor Martin Haese says a group of candidates he is supporting in the upcoming city council elections will be “comfortable” with a policy platform he will reveal after the close of nominations on September 18.

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As InDaily has reported extensively over the past month, Haese has been talking with a wide group of candidates for the elections with a view to producing a more “cohesive” council in the next four-year term.

Haese chose to reveal the names of the candidates to The Advertiser on Saturday, after telling InDaily that it would be premature to name the candidates until after nominations closed.

He reiterated his stance that he will not be directing preferences, saying that would send the “wrong signal” – but he will be personally endorsing the candidates.

Haese told InDaily today that he had met with the group as a whole “recently”, as well as individually.

The group would also purchase their campaign materials from the same printer to save money, although each individual would meet their own costs out of their own pockets.

However, he insisted the group was “quite informal”.

“I will be announcing some policies which will be widely supported post the 18th of September,” Haese said.

The endorsed candidates will be “very comfortable” with these policy positions.

Haese will endorse sitting council members Houssam Abiad, Anne Moran and Priscilla Corbell-Moore, as well as candidates Arman Abrahimzadeh, Rick Carter, Mary Couros, Simon Hou, Alex Hyde, Stephanie Johnston, Sanja Jovanovic, Quentin Kenihan,  Franz Knoll, Betty-Jean Price, Sam Taylor and Dan Turner.

On the face of it, the group appears to have little in common. Alex Hyde, for example, has had a long history with the Liberal Party while Sam Taylor was an adviser to Greens state leader Mark Parnell.

A member of the group, who spoke to InDaily on the basis of anonymity two weeks ago, revealed the group had planned to release a collection of shared policies but InDaily’s coverage meant this was no longer possible.

Haese said today there may be more candidates added to the list.

He said he had decided not to direct preferences – even though he himself won the Lord Mayorship on preferences at the 2014 election – after considering “the dynamic of the past four years”.

“It can pit people against each other – I don’t want to do that.”

At the same time, he said people had been asking him which candidates he endorsed so he had decided to make those candidates publicly known.

When asked if he expected preferences to come back to him from the endorsed candidates, he said: “That will ultimately be up to them.”

He said the group’s members were all people who were “contemplating local government for the right reasons” and who had “good ideas”.

The next elected body can get a lot more done “if there’s some semblance of alignment among the council”.

When asked why he would decide to announce publicly a list of endorsed candidates, but not to allocate preferences, Haese said he was “not entirely comfortable with the dynamic that it sets up”.

It was the ratepayers who would decide the make-up of the council, not elected members, he said, and he wasn’t comfortable with being that prescriptive about directing votes towards certain candidates.

A candidate for south ward, Dr Helen Donovan, has previously told InDaily that Houssam Abiad tried to recruit her to join a group of candidates whose purpose was to form a majority faction to control the next Adelaide City Council using a comprehensive preference deal, linking a target number of 19 candidates.

When asked if he had contemplated a preference deal before media coverage revealed the group’s existence, Haese said he had always “reserved my right” to run a preference ticket, or not.

“I reached the conclusion some time ago that I wouldn’t,” he said.

Haese and Abiad have both denied they have been involved in a group called “Team Adelaide” designed to elect a group of like-minded candidates to the council.

At a council meeting late last month, councillor Phil Martin tried to move a motion for an investigation into whether council staff or public resources such as Town Hall meeting rooms had been used during activities to recruit candidates to join such a team. The motion failed to go to a vote because Haese argued it was ultra vires (beyond the council’s power to decide), and because the north ward councillor did not receive a seconder.

Fellow north ward councillor and Local Government Association SA president Sue Clearihan told the meeting she would be reporting allegations to council CEO Mark Goldstone that an unnamed councillor had used public resources to gather candidates for the upcoming election.

Under the Local Government Act, a councillor must not use a facility or a service provided by the council unrelated to the performance of official duties.

The member of the Haese grouping who spoke to InDaily two weeks ago was adamant that none of its members had broken the provisions of the Local Government Act during recruitment activities.

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