On Monday night, the Adelaide branch of the Greens passed a motion expressing concern about the group pulled together by Haese, prompting a stinging response from the Lord Mayor.
Haese, seeking re-election, has announced he is endorsing a diverse range of candidates for the upcoming council elections, while not going so far as to allocate preferences.
The Greens’ motion sends a signal to party voters to throw their weight behind party members Robert Simms and Keiran Snape – neither of whom are part of Haese’s grouping – but to not support candidate Sam Taylor, a former adviser to Greens leader Mark Parnell who has gained Haese’s stamp of approval.
The motion, obtained by InDaily, says: “That the Adelaide branch of the South Australian Greens expresses a strong concern about the formation of a team/grouping in the Adelaide City Council local elections under the leadership of Lord Mayor Martin Haese and Liberal Councillor Houssam Abiad known in the media as ‘Team Adelaide’.
“The Adelaide branch does not support this grouping, which has not yet declared its policies and will not promote the candidacy of candidates standing under that banner.”
Simms, who was previously on the council before resigning to take up a casual Senate vacancy, said he wasn’t at the Adelaide branch meeting and could not comment on the motion.
However, he said Haese’s list of endorsed candidates “seems to be predominantly people who are aligned with the Liberal Party, with a few others thrown in”.
“This whole approach has really factionalised the election campaign, which is really disappointing from my perspective,” Simms said.
Snape said he believed the Haese team was “pro-corporate” and he would be encouraging his supporters to put members of the team “dead last on their ballots”.
“No mayor should be given carte blanche control over the council and if they are successful in getting six of their members elected, that’s exactly what would happen,” he said.
Greens convenor John Wishart confirmed that the motion had passed the Adelaide branch.
He said the party would not campaign in a formal sense for or against any candidates in the council elections, but individual party members may choose to campaign for particular candidates.
The Adelaide branch was concerned that the group formed by Haese did not appear to have a platform.
“The branch didn’t feel comfortable about supporting a group that has no policies,” he said.
Taylor, who is a member of the Adelaide branch of the Greens but did not attend Monday’s meeting, said he was disappointed in the motion but believed it meant that the branch would delay a decision about whether to provide some support to his candidature, rather than oppose it outright.
“It’s unfortunate that it appears the branch is now saying it’s actively not going to support candidates,” he said. “I don’t believe that’s the case.”
He said while the Greens did not officially endorse candidates, it did provide informal support to members who were standing for council elections.
Haese told InDaily this week that he would be announcing his own policy platform after nominations for the council elections close on September 18.
He said members of his “informal” grouping would be comfortable with these policies.
Haese said today that the Greens’ motion was self-serving and politically-motivated.
He insisted that the group of candidates he has endorsed were of diverse backgrounds and political hues.
“Over the years, I am consistently on the record as stating that the city council chamber is a place for community advocacy and is not a place for party political interference,” he said.
“By being bipartisan and debating issues solely on their merits, this term of council has mostly avoided political ideology and achieved a great deal. I am keen to preserve if not enhance that dynamic over the next term of council and that explains why I am endorsing an extremely diverse range of candidates in the 2018 election.”
He said he was “less interested in their political colours and more interested in what they can do for the community of the City of Adelaide”.
“However, I am not overly surprised that the Adelaide branch of the Greens has passed a motion suggesting that they will not support the candidates that I am endorsing.
“I’m sure that people will clearly see the self-serving political motivation behind that motion and understand that this is precisely the dynamic that I am seeking to avoid over the next term of council.”
He said he been a strong advocate of initiatives such as Carbon Neutral Adelaide, marriage equality and environmental protection, which were consistent with the Greens’ values.
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.
He hasn’t ruled out endorsing additional candidates.
InDaily has reported extensively on a group referred to, at least in its early development, as “Team Adelaide”.
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