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October 1, 2020
Commerce

Know your city council: Franz Knoll on progressing at pace

In a new series of conversations with City of Adelaide councillors, Franz Knoll speaks with CityMag about what he wants to achieve during his term and how Team Adelaide is helping him get it done.

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  • Words and pictures: Angela Skujins

Franz Knoll’s smallgoods kiosk Barossa Fine Foods has been in the Adelaide Central Market for almost three decades.

The business sells cured meats from Franz’s Bavarian heritage, such as Vienna sausages, mettwurst and liverwurst.

What was once a humble business, operating out of a small stall Franz and his wife Barbara could only just afford while supporting a young family, has now become a sprawling enterprise.

Since the brand’s inception, six other store locations have sprung up, including one in Melbourne.

Sipping on a coffee at Central Market café The Perfect Cup, Franz lauds the success of the café’s owner, Craig Lunn, who, like Franz, grew his business from a single shop to multiple outposts.

Barbara manages the main operations of Barossa Fine Foods, along with three of her four sons, Dieter Knoll, Andreas Knoll and Alex Knoll. This allows Franz to focus on chairing the Australian Meat Industry Smallgoods Council, among other bodies, and fulfilling his duties as a councillor.

Franz lovingly refers to the Central Market precinct as “the heart of the city”.

He explains to CityMag one of his aims for his time in council is to ensure the Market and its surrounds remains relevant.

“The community we have here is really special, [but] we need it to be current and contemporary, and people [need to be] coming here,” he says.

“If we want Adelaide to be successful, then it needs to be functioning well.”

Franz says he ran for council in 2018 because he always wanted to serve the Adelaide community, and his independent councillor website states he aims to balance the needs of the city’s residents and businesses.

His goals as a city councillor are simple: “ensuring Adelaide remains affordable and special, and we are clear [about] what Adelaide is in the world,” he says.

Franz is not the only politician in the Knoll clan. Stephan Knoll, another of Franz and Barbara’s sons, was a shining star of the Liberal Party as a State Government frontbencher, before losing his position in cabinet following an expense claims scandal.

While on the frontbench, Stephan oversaw powerful portfolios – including the office of local government.

There are clear lines drawn between his and his son’s roles in politics, Franz says. He has even, on at least one occasion, found himself at odds with a position held by the South Australian Liberal Party.

Two years ago, Franz protested a State Government push to deregulate retail trading hours. He aligned himself with the Labor Party, the shop employee’s union, and other independent retailers against the proposal of increased hours on public holidays and weekends.

“[Stephan] has his state and government view. I have my council and business view,” Franz says.

“So, you know trading hours – I’m not for extended trading hours overall, because it affects small businesses.

“Everybody has a right to their opinion.

“It can be said, though, that we are here to work together to get an outcome.”

“It’s about making things possible”

 

CityMag has previously identified Franz as belonging to a coalition of councillors called Team Adelaide – a conservative, business-centric faction that often votes together as a bloc.

Despite previous reporting from InDaily identifying the group’s pattern of voting together, some councillors are steadfast in their view that such a voting bloc does not exist.

Team Adelaide is not a controversial topic for Franz, who proudly claims membership to the group.

“The phrase Team Adelaide, which was just an off-the-cuff remark, this is about people who understand each other,” Franz explains.

“So when you do come to council, you already know each other, you already have an understanding [about] each individual [and] their main goals within council.

“In the voting, et cetera, it’s clear [we] have a very clear understanding of how we would like the city to progress. It’s about making things possible.”

Franz says “conversation” through committee meetings dictates how Team Adelaide votes, but the overall aim is to get motions passed.

Franz describes himself as a “considered and fair” councillor, but says his biggest weakness is not spending “hours and hour and hours” reading the fine print of a report or motion and leaving “a little bit more to the administration”.

“Some of the motions are not as nice and neat and tidy as you’d like, but it’s about the intention of that motion, that it translates into the outcomes you’re after,” he says.

Despite the differences and divisions within the council, Franz is proud of what he and his peers have achieved.

When asked if the council was dysfunctional, a claim made by some within the council, Franz says it’s completely the opposite. The fact councillors vote together and get ideas over the line faster makes government more efficient.

“If we are able to save six months to a year of that process, and be able to make us functional quicker, as in, you know, really contributing, isn’t that fantastic?” he says.

“It’s important that [if] we do that, then we can deliver good outcomes that are possible, and that they’re able to be delivered in the quickest time.”

Franz hopes to continue what he sees as the council’s current trajectory of productivity, while also connecting all levels of government to achieve the best outcomes for ratepayers.

“Obviously there’s the state government’s needs, the council needs, the community needs and the business needs. Each of them [are] slightly different. How do you meld those together and achieve the outcome that you want?” Franz says.

“It’s about making that happen.”

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