Independent and Liberal candidates on the Northern Beaches have both accused their opponents’ supporters of dirty tricks.
A spokesperson for Independent candidate for Mackellar Dr Sophie Scamps said around 20 posters made to look like Dr Scamps but claiming she was a candidate for The Greens were removed from the electorate on Friday (06 May). The office of Zali Steggall OAM MP also confirmed they had located and removed a number of similar posters from Warringah on Friday.
The posters appeared at the same time, containing similar messages, leading Dr Scamps to the conclusion Liberals were behind them.
“Mackellar woke up this morning to more dirty tricks from Scott Morrison’s Liberal Party. Misleading and unauthorised posters have been put up throughout our electorate in clear violation of Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) laws.
“This has been distressing and upsetting to many of our campaign volunteers and supporters and is one of the reasons I am backing Zali Steggall’s Stop the Lies Bill, which would outlaw lies in political advertising.
“This is the type of action that occurs when Scott Morrison refuses to set high standards. I believe this is also the result of a sustained misinformation campaign from Jason Falinski throughout this election.
“It is clear this was a well-coordinated and well-resourced attack, and it is incumbent on Jason Falinski to take responsibility and condemn this type of deceitful campaign tactic. When you don’t have a track record you can stand on or a vision for the future, this is the type of dirty tactic you have to rely on.
“I have been running a positive campaign and all of our 1,100 volunteers sign and agree to a code of conduct. Instead of wasting our time dealing with illegal attacks on property, I want to focus on listening to the people of Mackellar and representing them on the issues that matter most – climate change, the establishment of a federal anti-corruption commission, improved health and mental health services and acting on cost of living pressures,” said Dr Scamps in a statement issued on Friday (06 May).
The incumbent Member for Mackellar Jason Falinski denied he or the Liberal Party were responsible for the unauthorised political posters connecting Dr Scamps and Ms Steggall to The Greens.
“As per the NSW Liberal Party statement, we have no prior knowledge or involvement in these actions. Anyone who says otherwise needs to show proof. The best way to beat Climate 200 is for people to know the truth. They’ll keep taking the low road, while we keep taking the high road.
“They talk about protecting women and creating safe workplaces, but no one on my campaign has been charged with assault. A campaign worker for Sophie Scamps turned up to a Katherine Deves campaign event and has been charged by the police with assault.
“At the last election, one of Zali Steggall’s campaign workers stabbed a Liberal volunteer with a corkscrew and was charged and convicted with two counts of assault. Is this what integrity will mean in the future?” asked Mr Falinski.
Mr Falinski also hit back, saying his campaign had faced sustained vandalism of campaign materials from Climate 200 and GetUp! activists.
“Ever since the Climate 200 candidate announced their candidacy in Mackellar, people on the Northern Beaches have been subjected to ever increasing amounts of political vandalism, graffiti, horrid abuse that has culminated with one of their volunteers being charged with assault,” said Mr Falinski.
Mr Falinski’s office released the video footage of his office being vandalised recently in a graffiti attack.
Conservative political lobby group Advance Australia also denied they had played any role in the appearance of similar posters across a number of electorates, saying all their materials complied with AEC rules.
A spokesperson for the AEC confirmed they are investigating a complaint lodged by Ms Steggall and have asked people to report any posters which do not have the required political authorisation.
“The signage appears to be unauthorised, in breach of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. We are endeavouring to find information regarding who is behind the signage,” said the AEC spokesperson.
A spokesperson for Dr Scamps said the posters have also been reported to police.
Images: Dr Sophie Scamps
Video: Jason Falinski MP
NSW Police are seeking public assistance in relation to this matter. If you have any information that may assist them with their inquiries, including if you witnessed the incident or have dashcam footage from the area around the time of the incident, please contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.