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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

The matter of correctly filling in forms

Dear Beagle Editor, Under a recent article you made a comment regarding Councillor Brown. The comment made mention of a current police investigation. Can you provide more information to myself and readers who are not aware of any of this and would like to be better informed. Thank you Damien Rogers From the Beagle Editor: Thank you Damien for your email. All I can offer at present is what I have at hand and my own observations. The information I provide is in the public domain and has been made available to the police and it is presented here for the purpose of openness and transparency. It will be the determination of the police as to whether there was any wrong doing and until their determinations are known on the matter all we can do is wait. Firstly, what is known is that a formal allegation was made (name withheld) to the Australian Electoral Commission regarding a possible false statement being made on a Candidate Information Sheet. Below is the response that states that false statements made in Statutory Declarations are matters for the police.

On this advice the matter was taken to the police and The Beagle has been informed this week that police are still investigating. So what is the alleged false statement? In section 1. Question is Member of any Registered Political Party and Name of Party As you can see the field says NIL. That is a FALSE statement. As you can see below there is an additional Optional 2. section that can be filled out by the candidate asking details of Membership of Organisations. Again this is blank. As you can see on Councillor Brown's sheet he chose not to fill this in either. Note that it does say "Section 2: Optional"

This "failure" to fill in this form correctly by saying NIL and leaving Section 2 blank is what raised the ire of many at the time of the 2016 elections. Mr Brown was well known to be a member of the Liberal Party and his "omission" to say so on his his declaration was seen by many in the community as providing "false" information. It was widely known that he had, in 2012, even sought pre-selection as a Liberal Candidate for the seat of Eden Monaro. May 5 2012 Sydney Morning Herald THE former Howard government adviser and business lobbyist Peter Hendy is the frontrunner to win Liberal Party preselection for the federal marginal seat of Eden-Monaro.The NSW Liberal Party, which is preselecting candidates well ahead of the federal election, due in the spring of next year, will hold the ballot in Eden-Monaro today. His main challengers today will be Lindsay Brown, Terry Vincent and Robert Belcher. Many consider that Lindsay Brown should have written down that he was a member Liberal Party and that he intentionally omitted to do. It became a sticking point and every time Mr Brown was in a public meeting his membership of the Liberal Party and his omission to declare it was raised. It was beginning to gain steam and made it to the Bay Post.

So, Damien, the police investigation around this matter continues and it is understood that Mr Brown has been interviewed. I do have at hand a copy of a letter regarding Councillor Brown's public denial of Liberal Party membership. The document indicates that Mr Brown offered an assurity to the local Liberal party that he had "merely forgotten to pay his membership, and would pay up, asap" and that he also "UNDERSTOOD that he was still classed as a member, albeit un-financial" Of concern to Eurobodalla Liberal Party members however was that throughout the campaign Mr Brown continued denying any affiliation to the Liberal Party, whilst openly ‘wheeling and dealing’ with Labor, The Greens and the Animal Justice Party for their preferences. It is understood that Councillor Brown remains an unfinancial member of the Liberal Party. This does open up another area of interest in regards to disclosures and once again these are centred around Councillor Brown The area of concern is once again around an official form. This time the Disclosure of Political Donations and Electorate Expenditures for a Local Government Councillor for the year ending 30th June 2012. It has already been established that Mr Brown ran for pre-selection in Eden Monaro as a Liberal Candidate in MAY 2012. As such he would have had to be a fully financial member of the Liberal Party. Under the Elections NSW Frequently Asked Questions for assistance to those completing such forms there is the question: Are membership fees to a political party a political donation? The Elections NSW advice is: Paying a membership or affiliation fee to a political party is a political donation. If a membership fee along with other donations made by the same person to the same recipient in a financial year are $1,000 or more then the donations (including the membership fee) are reportable political donations and must be disclosed. Party levies paid by a Member of Parliament or local councillor to the party are also political donations. Councillor Brown has ticked NO.

In 2013 again Councillor Brown answered NO to the same question

DID the CANDIDATE make any SMALL political donations during the period covered by the disclosure TO another NSW candidate, group of candidates, local government councillor, Member of Parliament, POLITICAL PARTY or third-party campaigner? Remembering that: Paying a membership or affiliation fee to a political party is a political donation.

Whilst the current investigation is around an omission in Section 1 and the opportunity to complete an Optional field in Section 2 that some have deemed to constitute a false declaration worthy of police investigation the omission to declare small political donations in the form of membership fees to a political party is another matter that also should not be overlooked. The only returns at hand are for 2012 and 2013 however the subsequent declarations are now being sought for the sake of transparency, as is the new catch-cry of Eurobodalla Council.

Comment has been sought from Mr Brown to the anomalies mentioned above however he has not, as yet, responded.

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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