En­dorse­ment up­roar


The Advocate (Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Lisa Thomas

CITY of Swan coun­cil­lors have crit­i­cised an email sent by the WA Lib­eral Party en­dors­ing some can­di­dates in the up­com­ing Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions.

Lib­eral Party Swan Val­ley branch pres­i­dent Trevor Han­cock sent out an email last week to party mem­bers en­dors­ing six can­di­dates whom he be­lieved would “best serve the com­mu­nity”.

The email has up­set some can­di­dates, who say it was un­eth­i­cal.

Coun­cil­lor David Fardig, who is up for re-elec­tion this month, was one of six can­di­dates en­dorsed in the email, but said he was an­gry at be­ing in­cluded on the list.

He said there had been no dis­cus­sion or consent given to the Lib­eral Party to en­dorse him and be­lieved the tac­tic was to cre­ate divi­sion be­tween coun­cil­lors.

“I feel like it’s com­pro­mised me,” he said. “I am apo­lit­i­cal and want noth­ing to do with any po­lit­i­cal party, and I feel that the Lib­eral party is try­ing to drive a wedge be­tween cur­rent coun­cil­lors.”

Cr Fardig said he had been a coun­cil­lor for 24 years and had never ac­cepted an in­vi­ta­tion to run or join a po­lit­i­cal party.

“My only con­cern has al­ways been my com­mu­nity and serv­ing my res­i­dents and ratepay­ers,” he said. “I’m sup­port­ing Mayor Mick Wain­wright for Al­tone ward and the can­di­dates who live in the wards, and are fo­cused on the in­ter­ests of their com­mu­nity.”

Peter Lyn­don-James, Rashelle Pre­dovnik, Frank Al­ban, Dar­ryl Trease and Bryce Parry were also en­dorsed in the email.

Mr Han­cock de­clined to com­ment on the email.

A spokesper­son from the WA Elec­toral Com­mis­sion said that as an im­par­tial author­ity, it was not ap­pro­pri­ate for it to com­ment on is­sues in the po­lit­i­cal do­main, but there was noth­ing that pre­vented po­lit­i­cal par­ties or in­ter­est groups en­dors­ing can­di­dates.

Mur­doch Univer­sity po­lit­i­cal lec­turer Ian Cook said it wasn’t the first time a po­lit­i­cal party had en­dorsed can­di­dates in lo­cal gov­ern­ment, but said the rea­sons be­hind it were wor­ry­ing.

“My main fear is that lo­cal gov­ern­ment is be­ing used as a train­ing ground for fu­ture politi­cians and as a way for for­mer min­is­ters and mem­bers to main­tain a pro­file in the com­mu­nity,” he said.

“There is the dan­ger they are in­volved not be­cause they are com­mit­ted to lo­cal gov­ern­ment, but be­cause they are com­mit­ted to their ca­reers, which is trou­bling.”

Coun­cil­lor Kevin Bai­ley said lo­cal gov­ern­ment was about serv­ing the com­mu­nity, not self-in­ter­est.

“There are three rea­sons peo­ple run for coun­cil,” he said.

“Ego, a vested in­ter­est, in­clud­ing self-in­ter­est; party pol­i­tics and an axe to grind; and those who gen­uinely wanted to serve their com­mu­nity.

“If you’re there for the first two, you don’t be­long in lo­cal gov­ern­ment.”

Coun­cil­lor David McDon­nell said a po­lit­i­cal party pub­licly urg­ing ratepay­ers to vote for cer­tain can­di­dates and en­dors­ing oth­ers that will toe the line has no place in WA lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

“The in­tegrity of lo­cal gov­ern­ment at its core is the fact it re­mains apo­lit­i­cal,” he said.

“The Lib­eral party is do­ing ev­ery­thing it can to stack lo­cal gov­ern­ments through­out the state to un­der­mine the cur­rent State Gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to get lo­cal projects off the ground, which sets a very wor­ry­ing prece­dence and puts des­per­ately needed com­mu­nity projects in jeop­ardy.”

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