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Rod Henderson and Rita Saffioti

Liberal, Labor play party politics with looming City of Swan elections

BOTH sides of State politics have been caught up in the local government elections, with two Liberal party officials allegedly breaking unofficial party rules and Rita Saffioti appearing to breach the electoral act.
Last week, Swan Valley Liberal Party Branch president Trevor Hancock sent an email to his members, endorsing six potential councillors for the City of Swan – Peter Lyndon-James, Rashelle Predovnik, Frank Alban, Darryl Trease and Bryce Parry.
While Mr Hancock refused to comment on the email, simply describing it as a personal email sent to Liberal Party members, former Liberal candidate for Midland and current City of Swan councillor Daniel Parasiliti, who is not running for another term with the City, described the email as a clear breach of rules.
“State politics should not be getting involved with local government, regardless of if it’s Liberal, Labor or Greens,” he said.
“I am disgusted that a branch has gone out of their way to get involved in local government.
“The Liberal Party has always prided itself on not getting involved in local government, which as a councillor is refreshing.
“Now we’ve got a branch who has got themselves very active in local government, and I think it’s up to the state director Sam Calabrese to take some very strong action against a president who is using his email for actions outside of state politics.”
It also appears that City of Swan councillor Rod Henderson, who is also the secretary of the Swan Valley Liberal Party branch and president of the Pearce Division of the party, has also been attempting to influence Liberal party members.
Echo News received a copy of an email sent by Mr Henderson on September 21 from a high-ranking former official of the party.
In the email, Mr Henderson calls on members to support Linda Aitken, who is running for councillor in the City of Wanneroo, stating “…we need capable councillors and we need to keep Labor/Greens out!”
Mr Calabrese said although it might appear the Liberal Party were taking an unprecedented step in endorsing candidates, the party does not get involved in local government elections and the Liberal Party branding on Mr Hancock’s email was simply a flaw in the email system.
“When these emails are sent out it automatically puts in a few bits and pieces like our logo and footer, which then confuses things quite a bit.
“It’s a problem we’re trying to fix.”
Mr Calabrese also said the fact Mr Hancock’s email supported a well-known Labor staffer was proof this was not a State Liberal issue.
However the former high-ranking official, who spoke to Echo News on the condition he was not identified, said the public was witnessing a new paradigm in Liberal politics.
“This issue has deeply divided the Liberal party and I can tell you our members are very angry about this influence being exerted on local government.”
The Liberal Party isn’t the only side playing politics with the local government elections, with Rita Saffioti appearing to breach the Electoral Act.
Ms Saffioti distributed a letter in Brabham endorsing John McNamara, with the letter signed as Rita Saffioti MLA and referencing “the new McGowan government’s election commitments for the local area both as Member for West Swan and as a Minister.”
However the letter does not state who it is authorised by or the name and location of where it was printed, a clear breach of the Electoral Act.
The WA Electoral Commission website states that “It is important to note that any material ‘that is intended, calculated or likely to affect voting in an election’ is required to be authorised once the writs have been issued”.
“The requirements relating to the authorisation of election material apply irrespective of who is publishing the material and whether it is in printed or electronic form.
“Any electoral advertisement, handbill, pamphlet or electoral notice (other than an advertisement in a newspaper announcing the holding of a meeting), must have at the end of it, the name and physical street address (not a PO Box number) of the person authorising it.
“If the material is printed in hard copy, then it must also include the name and place of business of the printer at the foot of the material.”
In a statement to Echo News, Ms Saffioti said: “This was an oversight.”
“Letters of endorsement were distributed in Brabham and I apologise for the mistake.”

About Liam Ducey

Liam Ducey is an experienced journalist, having worked in print media in Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Port Hedland, Bunbury and across the metropolitan area, as well as online for several Fairfax Media mastheads. His reporting has seen him awarded the 2013 Clubs WA award for Best Club Media Story in 2013 and the Western Australian Football Commission Umpiring Media Award in 2014. On the weekend you can usually find him at Bells Rapids, taking a very reluctant dog for a walk on the Goat trail.

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