As InDaily revealed earlier this year, a group of council candidates endorsed by then-Lord Mayor Martin Haese had been meeting regularly, in private, ahead of this month’s local government election – but none was willing to acknowledge an affiliation with “Team Adelaide” publicly.
Three candidates associated with the group – former president of the SA Young Liberals Alex Hyde, Central Market trader Franz Knoll (the father of the Local Government Minister, Stephan) and domestic violence campaigner Arman Abrahimzadeh – have been elected.
A further three Haese-endorsed candidates – incumbent Central Ward councillor Houssam Abiad, China Business Network SA president Simon Hou and real estate agent Mary Couros – have also been elected, the latest round of updated figures released this afternoon show.
Re-elected area councillor Anne Moran also had Haese’s endorsement but said she was never invited to join the group and had not attended its meetings.
Former Greens Senator Robert Simms, incumbent North Ward councillor Phil Martin and Chancery Lane Gallery operator Jessy Khera and have also been elected.
Franz Knoll told InDaily this morning that he had benefited from being part of the group by becoming familiar with its other members, their values and their approach to policy.
He said being part of the group meant he would be able to “modify” his approach to policy proposals “so that what I bring is acceptable to the broader community”.
He added that while each of the candidates in the group has “a completely different agenda” for the city and North Adelaide, being part of the group meant that they would all have a better chance of progressing their individual policy goals.
“You get to know each other … that’s the only real benefit,” he said.
“If that familiarity helps to get us progress … what each hopes to achieve then that’s a huge win.
“Isn’t it fantastic that we can progress a number of different projects.”
Despite this, he insisted: “It isn’t specifically a group as such.”
In September, Haese sensationally abandoned his campaign for re-election, citing personal and family reasons. He endorsed incumbent deputy Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor to take the top job.
Vershoor was yesterday confirmed elected as Lord Mayor, defeating Adelaide commercial lawyer Mark Hamilton.
But she said “Team Adelaide” had been “a beat-up by InDaily”.
“The first ticket that went out was by (rival Lord Mayoral candidate) Mark Hamilton and nobody even picked that up or said anything about it,” she said.
Verschoor said she hoped that the new council would work cohesively together.
“We’ve got some fantastic new councillors that have come in plus some very experienced councillors have been returned,” she said.
“During the campaign, I met with all of them independently.
“We didn’t sit down one-on-one yesterday but my intention is to certainly do that over the coming weeks.”
Defeated south ward incumbent, Priscilla Corbell-Moore, who was one of Haese’s endorsed candidates, said InDaily’s coverage of “Team Adelaide” was partly to blame for her electoral loss.
I’m not part of a Team Adelaide, I wasn’t helped by anyone
Corbell-Moore had earlier this year told InDaily that she was not a member of the group, but declined to comment on whether she had attended any of its meetings and responded – “I’m not saying” – when asked whether she had been approached to join it.
Asked about the secrecy surrounding the group at the time, she said she was “aware of rumours of an Abiad-led group” and that it wasn’t “unusual to have an element of suspense to do with… campaign linkups”.
She told InDaily today: “Team Adelaide was never a thing.”
“I’m not part of a Team Adelaide, I wasn’t helped by anyone,” Corbell-Moore said.
“I did get an endorsement from Martin Haese but all I wanted to do was support him and just be on whatever he was doing and he wasn’t running anyway.
“I’ve always worked hard for the community. I’ve previously and always have had a good reputation but I think that the previous stories (on Team Adelaide) really did a lot of damage to me.”
Corbell-Moore lost her seat to fellow Haese-endorsee Alex Hyde and independent Helen Donovan.
Asked why she thought Hyde was able to achieve electoral success despite his association with “Team Adelaide”, Corbell-Moore said her status as an incumbent councillor meant she was particularly affected.
“I don’t think it affected him (Hyde) at the same level,” she said.
“I’m an incumbent, I’ve got the experience sitting on council whereas Alex is unfamiliar, the community don’t really know him, he was just somebody that emerged as a candidate in the local council elections.
“There are other things at play in terms of allegiances that you make or are made or emerge as a result of campaigning.
“Alex had some things working in his favour, I think, in terms of some connections.”
Corbell-Moore said she did not want to comment on what those “connections” were.
InDaily contacted Alex Hyde for comment, but he did not respond before deadline.
Donovan says she declined an invitation from Abiad to join “Team Adelaide” earlier this year.
Speaking to InDaily in August, she said Abiad had told her the group would be assured a majority on the next council if enough members – 19 was the target number – swapped preferences on their how-to-vote cards.
A “Team Adelaide” insider subsequently detailed the inner workings of the group.
Donovan told InDaily this morning: “At this point, I’m just keen to collaborate with everyone who was elected now that the newly elected council will be working together.”
“It will be interesting to see who everything goes from here, now that they will need to work effectively together with all members of council.”
Like Haese, Abiad had denied the existence of a group called “Team Adelaide” but promoted the virtue of a more collaborative future city council.
He has since refused to comment on the grouping, and did not respond when we contacted him this morning.
Hou also declined to comment.
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.