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City council "in good shape" despite continued abuse, infighting: CEO

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Adelaide City Council’s CEO says there is “no reason to be alarmed” by elected member infighting at Town Hall, while confirming one councillor lodged a formal complaint after an argument spilled over into confrontation at Tuesday night’s meeting.

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Mark Goldstone said the tense political climate at Town Hall was “unfortunately being played out in the public”, but said the council was “continuing to deliver to the community’s expectations” and was operationally “in good shape”.

The defence came as councillors continued to criticise each other this morning.

Area councillor Arman Abrahimzadeh told InDaily this morning he had lodged a formal complaint to Goldstone over behaviour he believes is directed towards himself and other councillors.

“The incident that started it all was in February this year when I proposed an amendment to (fellow councillor) Anne Moran’s motion,” he said.

“There and then when I moved that amendment she (Moran) turned to me and said, ‘You want to change my motion you fucking speak to me first’.

“It’s not just about that particular incident… it’s not just me, it’s other members too and there is one common denominator.”

Earlier this month, Abrahimzadeh alleged during a council meeting that he was called a “dickhead” by Moran.

Speaking on ABC Radio Adelaide this morning, Moran admitted that she had described Abrahimzadeh as a “dickhead” while speaking in the chamber.

“I called him (dickhead) inside the chamber as a joke because he was doing a long list of ‘d’ names – words starting with ‘d’ – to describe developers,” she said.

“When he sat down I jokingly said, ‘Well that would make you a bit of a dickhead wouldn’t it?’, which he repeated out loud to the whole chamber.

“I regret saying that, I didn’t realise he was quite so sensitive.”

Abrahimzadeh, whose mother was murdered by his father at a public event in Adelaide in 2010, told InDaily this morning he felt insulted by Moran’s characterisation.

“I’m not that precious, I have been raised and disciplined by a murderer,” he said.

“When you’ve had a history like mine, you’re not that precious.”

Goldstone confirmed to InDaily that he had received a complaint from a councillor in relation to poor behaviour in the past two days, but declined to reveal details.

“I can confirm that a formal complaint has been received which we will deal with in accordance with the relevant process,” he said.

“I’m not in a position to comment any further at this point in time, as I must ensure the integrity of the process is not compromised.”

The complaint comes as tensions continue to simmer at Town Hall over the Team Adelaide majority faction – of which Abrahimzadeh is a member – and concerns from non-Team Adelaide members that the faction continues to vote en bloc.

Yesterday InDaily revealed Moran and north ward councillor Mary Couros were involved in a corridor confrontation during a break at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor was forced to call the break after councillors hurled what Verschoor described as “personal attacks” across the chamber.

The personal attacks continued on ABC Radio this morning, when deputy Lord Mayor Houssam Abiad – credited as being the Team Adelaide factional leader – likened Moran to senator Pauline Hanson, and a dinosaur.

He said Moran and fellow non-Team Adelaide members Phil Martin and Robert Simms were “disrupting good people doing good work” by putting up motions “on purpose, knowing they will fail, knowing they will get a headline, so they can make it look like there’s a division”.

Moran replied by labelling Abiad as a “name-caller”.

“I cannot work with Houssam Abiad,” she said.

Goldstone said he didn’t see any reason for the public to be alarmed with recent councillor behaviour, adding many of the decisions that had been made by the council in the past six months were “really progressive”.

“My view is that this is politics and unfortunately it’s being played out in the public,” he told InDaily.

“But operationally we’re in very good shape, we’re doing some good work and council are making some really constructive decisions.

“As long as that continues I don’t see any reason to be alarmed with what’s occurring.”

Asked if he felt the presence of Team Adelaide was impacting the council, Goldstone replied: “From an operational perspective the City of Adelaide continues to deliver great services and outcomes to the community”.

“Following the election in November many constructive and positive decisions have been made by the elected member group.

“I am confident this will continue.”

Local Government Minister Stephan Knoll said in a statement that infighting and poor behaviour was a “big problem” for some councils.

“Councillors need to spend their time fighting for their ratepayers, not fighting each other,” he said.

“Stamping out council infighting and addressing broader concerns around conduct is a key consideration we will be addressing through our local government reforms.

“We are working to give Mayors the power to deal with and stamp out immature and disruptive behaviour in council chambers.”

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