Sunday, November 12, 2006

The truth will out (at least here)!

Hopefully the last of the catch-up posts, here is the media release issued on 9 November in response to Mr Tully's advice:

The Electoral Commissioner, Mr Steve Tully, has rejected a claim by Darren Lewin-Hill, a Northcote independent candidate, that Labor electoral material is deceptive or misleading in claiming local status for its Northcote candidate. Mr Tully's advice comes despite the fact that the Labor candidate, Fiona Richardson, lives in Regent, in the heart of the Preston District to the north of the seat she is contesting.

In a brochure recently distributed in Northcote, Ms Richardson is described as a 'local working mother'. A letter earlier sent to Northcote electors by Mary Delahunty MP describes Ms Richardson as 'a long time local resident'.

'The issue is not whether political parties can run a candidate who lives outside the electorate - they clearly can, as we saw with Mary Delahunty and see now with Fiona Richardson. At stake is the accuracy of what can be told to electors in locally distributed material. It is clear to me that voters receiving this material in their Northcote letterboxes would read "local" to mean living in the electorate. When "local" is misused, electors are misled,' Mr Lewin-Hill said today.

Mr Tully advised in his response to the complaint that he considers 'local' to mean 'of the neighbourhood' and that the descriptions in the electoral material were therefore 'not clearly false or misleading in terms of section 84(1) of the Electoral Act 2002'.

Mr Lewin-Hill rejected Mr Tully's response on the basis of electoral boundaries published on the Victorian Electoral Commission's own website.

'From the maps themselves, it's drawing a long bow to suggest that someone who lives in Regent is 'of the neighbourhood' relative to residents of the Northcote District. Ms Richardson would most certainly be claiming local status in Preston if she were running for that Seat. She can't have it both ways and, in choosing their MP for Northcote, electors have a right to know if someone's claim to be local is true or false.

'If the electoral matter had made a clear statement about Ms Richardson living elsewhere and she demonstrated strong local ties, that would be a different matter. However, she clearly feels exposed on being yet another Labor ring-in and on the performance of the Bracks Labor Government. That's why she needs to compensate by claiming to be a local when she's not,' Mr Lewin-Hill said.

He invited those interested in examining Ms Richardson's claims to visit the following pages on the VEC website:

Northcote District:

Preston District:

Map showing Regent relative to Preston boundary:

Mr Lewin-Hill has lived in the Northcote electorate for nearly 12 years, and for two years was spokesperson for the community planning group, Save Westgarth Village.

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