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Rex for Mayor? Patrick weighs up Adelaide City Council bid

Politics

Ousted South Australian senator Rex Patrick is contemplating a run for Adelaide Lord Mayor as a factionally unaligned candidate – with one prominent councillor already vowing to drop out of the mayoral race and offer support if he chooses to contest.

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Patrick, whose term as a federal senator for South Australia ended on Thursday, revealed on ABC Radio Adelaide yesterday afternoon that he has been approached to run for Lord Mayor and was considering his options.

The former Centre Alliance member and long-time transparency advocate said he was also contemplating offers from the private sector.

“I didn’t really think about the role of Lord Mayor, however, I have been approached, someone’s made the suggestion,” Patrick told InDaily.

“All I’m going through is my normal engineering process of working out exactly what the role entails, whether or not I would be suited to the role and whether or not there’s some reasonable support.

“I don’t think there’s any point in running for Lord Mayor unless there is some prospect of winning … if I decided to run, I would commit myself 110 per cent, but I’ve got to get to that point first.”

Patrick only garnered around 2 per cent of the vote in a crowded South Australian senate race this year. Prior to the election, he contemplated a run for the regional seat of Grey.

The former submariner lives in Adelaide’s East End and says he would consult with people “from all sides of the council” along with parliamentarians and the business community before making a decision.

“The City of Adelaide’s so very important as sort of the model council, but it’s got huge importance in terms of the gross domestic product and its importance to the rest of the state,” he said.

“I’m trying to look at this and say well what can I contribute to this role. I think I can bring back a bunch of experience from the Senate.

“I am aware that there are factions within the council – I will not be part of any faction, I need to make that very clear.”

Patrick said his platform if he chooses to run would include measures to increase council’s transparency, including with companies that make submissions to the City of Adelaide.

“I know that I would have to go into this role with a focus on a vision for Adelaide, getting the balance right between making sure the park lands are preserved, making sure that we do maintain the fantastic heritage buildings we have in the city – but we also allow for development.

He pointed to the instance of his daughter being unable to get a place at Adelaide Botanic High School despite living “300 to 400 metres away” as a formative experience.

“You can’t have a situation where you’ve got these very large buildings, you’ve got Lot Fourteen, you’ve got a whole bunch of activity taking place and you haven’t properly planned for childcare, for education, for transport – that can’t be ad hoc,” he said.

“That experience in itself made me think about how these things were planned.”

Candidate nominations for the mayoral race close on September 6, but Patrick said he would “have to start campaigning before that”.

“If I do decide to run for Lord Mayor, I would have to make a decision relatively quickly,” he said.

So far, only incumbent Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor and councillor Phil Martin have declared their intention to run in the November mayoral election.

But Martin, who is running to replace Verschoor’s Team Adelaide-aligned factional group, said he would drop out of if Patrick chose to run.

“If Rex Patrick decides to seek the office of Lord Mayor as he suggested … I will not contest the mayoralty and I will do whatever I can to support the campaign for a [Lord Mayor] who would be a breath of fresh air in the City of Adelaide,” he told InDaily.

Martin denied he was among those to approach Patrick to run.

“But we have spoken about Council and I was immediately impressed not only by his integrity and his commitment to our city, but also by his desire to work collaboratively with people.”

Patrick said Martin’s offer to drop out was a “gracious offer”.

“My understanding of Phillip is that he wants to see some changes to the way in which council is run, and he doesn’t necessarily see himself as critical to that,” Patrick said.

Voting packs for the Adelaide City Council election will be mailed out between October 14 and October 20.

Voting will close on November 10 and the count will begin on Saturday, November 12.

Additional reporting by Angela Skujins

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