The disclosure statements of each councillor's expenditures for last year's election have been released.
The disclosure statements of each councillor's expenditures for last year's election have been released. Scott Powick

Cheap council election ran by Labor

COUNCIL elections can be an expensive venture but the Country Labor Party seems to have beaten all odds after spending a grand total of zero on their 2016 campaign.

The financial disclosure statements from the Tweed Shire Council 2016 election, released by the New South Wales Electoral Commission recently, have revealed first-time Labor Councillor Reece Byrnes spent $0 throughout his entire campaign.

While, the documents showed the Reece Byrnes Group had donated $589.70 to the NSW Labor Branch Party, Cr Byrnes told the Tweed Daily News his "grassroots campaign” meant there was no need for expenditure.

Labour candidate for the Tweed Shire Council Reece Byrne at Centaur Primary School on election day.
Labour candidate for the Tweed Shire Council Reece Byrne at Centaur Primary School on election day. Aisling Brennan

"We ran a pretty grassroots campaign,” Deputy Mayor Byrnes said.

"We pretty much had all of our (promotional gear) ready to go. Once the election was called we were ready to go.

"Most of our stuff was donated by Labor branch members.

"We didn't run any ads. It was all done through posts on Facebook and face to face.”

Cr Byrnes said he even printed out his own How To Vote cards from his home computer.

While Cr Byrnes confirmed he had not spent any money on the election, Mayor Katie Milne and Cr Warren Polgase claimed there was an error in their recorded campaign expenditures on the Electoral Commission website.

The website states Cr Milne also spent $0 on her 2016 campaign but she said her expenditures were between $10,000 and $12,000.

Mayor Katie Milne casts her vote for the Tweed Shire Council Election 2016 at Tweed Heads South Public School.
Mayor Katie Milne casts her vote for the Tweed Shire Council Election 2016 at Tweed Heads South Public School. Aisling Brennan

"We definitely lodged (the correct amount) because we definitely had expenses,” she said.

"We didn't get any donations as it's all funded by the Tweed Greens.”

Cr Polglase said the website's statement that he had spent $58,397.04 was "totally wrong”.

The seasoned councillor said his expenditures were roughly the same amount as the $28,703.25 he received in the recorded political donations.

Councillor Warren Polglase casts his vote for the Tweed Shire Council 2016 election at Centaur Primary School.
Councillor Warren Polglase casts his vote for the Tweed Shire Council 2016 election at Centaur Primary School. Aisling Brennan

Meanwhile, independent Cr Chris Cherry, who spent $9,199.02 on her campaign, said elections were very expensive if you didn't have the financial backing of a political party.

"The hardest thing is you have to pay it, whether you get elected or not,” she said.

Liberal Cr James Owen, who spent $12,939.30 on his campaign, said he didn't receive financial backing from his party and even sold his dirt bike to cover costs.

"I came third and I didn't have the massive party machine,” he said.

"All I got from the Liberal Party was the brand.”

Tweed Shire Council candidate Ron Cooper with no high rise placards on election day.
Tweed Shire Council candidate Ron Cooper with no high rise placards on election day. Aisling Brennan

Independent Cr Ron Cooper said he believes he was able to run a successful campaign for less than $6000 on the back of public support for his various petitions.

"As part pensioners, trying to make our retirement savings see us out, it was an anxious commitment - though probably about half of what I spent back in the early 1990s,” Cr Cooper said, who served on the council for two terms in the early 1990s.

"I had to rely heavily on the recognition I had built up collecting many of the 16,000 signatures on the Lot 490 petition and most of the 15,500 signatures on the Heights of Buildings Petition.”

Meanwhile, first-time Cr Pryce Allsop said while he was surprised that he had spend $17,000 on his election campaign, he believed it was the only way to be successful without out the backing of a political party.

"If you are not party connected the campaign funding has to come from some where,” he said.

"I'm not sure how much funding support political parties put up for councillors but our outgoings from donations (was) $17,000 and on Election Day we battled to cover all the electoral sites and have enough posters.

"It seems funny that party contributions are not perceived in the same light as developer donations.

"Honestly I was very fortunate with my network of supporters but Independent candidates have a battle on their hands competing with party funded campaigns.

"This is not to say the Party candidates aren't passionate about their rolls. It's just that it's not a financially level playing field for candidates without a network.”

Tweed Shire Council candidate Pryce Allsop at Centaur Primary School on election day.
Tweed Shire Council candidate Pryce Allsop at Centaur Primary School on election day. Aisling Brennan

Disclosure of total expenditures

  • Cr Warren Polglase spent estimated $28,703.52
  • Cr James Owen spent $12,939.30
  • Cr Reece Byrnes spent $0
  • Cr Katie Milne spent estimated $10,000-$12,000
  • Cr Ron Cooper spent $5,995.70
  • Cr Pryce Allsop spent $17,413.92
  • Cr Chris Cherry spent $9,199.02

Source: www.searchdecs.elections.nsw.gov.au



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