Fresh election option

TWEED voters could face a fresh council election. That is the latest option investigated by Greens Party lawyers yesterday as the dispute over the council elections deepened -- even though a recount of votes will not go ahead.

Greens Party number two candidate Kevin McCready announced the party would not pay $19,369 required by 9am today for a recount.

He said the party now had 40 days to lodge an appeal with the Court of Disputed Returns.

His announcement followed the refusal of the NSW Electoral Commission to pay for the recount. Instead lawyers were considering whether a court challenge calling for a fresh election would succeed.

A fresh election could double Tweed Shire Council's current bill of about $400,000 for the September 13 poll.

With conservative -leaning councillors set to dominate green-leaning members in the seven member council, speculation yesterday began to run rife about deals for the election of a mayor and deputy mayor next Tuesday.

Former councillor and Murwillumbah Business Chamber president Phil Youngblutt declared he would back former mayor Warren Polglase for the job for the first 12 months and seek the role of deputy mayor.

Mr Polglase wouldn't be drawn on the issue but condemned the Greens Party for challenging the election count saying they should allow the council to "get on with the job".

Mr McCready said "the big thing from our point of view is the optional preferrential system has led to almost 50per cent of people wasting their votes which is undemocratic".

"We are arguing the voters were misled by electoral officials and that could cast into doubt the whole election.

"A lot of people have offered to sign a statutory declaration that they were told by electoral officials their preferences would flow if they voted '1' above the line or '1' to '4' (below the line on ballot papers). Instead, about 50 per cent of votes exhausted across the board."

Mr McCready said initial legal advice was that if the Greens could prove "the exhaustion rate affected us more than the others we have a strong case".

Mr Polglase said any court appeal would not succeed.

"They are challenging the system which would invalidate all councils across NSW, not just the Tweed," he said.

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