Another election volunteer has been dumped from the Mackellar Independent campaign following another incident now under police investigation.
Just after 6.00am yesterday morning (Wednesday, 18 May) NSW Police were called to a report of physical contact between a member of the public and a volunteer for the campaign of Mackellar Independent candidate, Dr Sophie Scamps.
CCTV video of the incident seen by the Northern Beaches Advocate shows a woman walking a dog speaking to a man erecting a number of election posters for Dr Scamps’ campaign in front of the electorate office of the incumbent Liberal Member for Mackellar, Jason Falinski MP. The man is seen to allegedly shove the woman with enough force to push her backwards.
The woman in the video is known to the Northern Beaches Advocate and was contacted for comment on the incident. She expressed concern for her welfare and livelihood as a result of the incident, and we have agreed not to identify her or show the video which may identify her to others. She has confirmed the incident occurred and she was the person involved.
The woman said she was walking her dog along Pittwater Road, Narrabeen, to get a coffee when she observed the man erecting a number of corflute (plastic) election signs for Dr Sophie Scamps’ campaign around the base of trees directly in front of the electorate office of Jason Falinski MP.
The woman, who is not affiliated with the Liberal Party, said although she had disagreements with Mr Falinski in the past, ‘this was over the top’ and she approached the man and said he should not be erecting signs at that location. She said the man shoved her hard enough that several hours later she was still sore in her shoulder from the point of contact.
This account has been corroborated by a person the woman was on the phone with at the time. Over the phone, the person heard the man become verbally abusive towards the woman, and her claim that physical contact had been made (as has been confirmed by CCTV video). At this point, the person on the phone contacted NSW Police.
NSW Police confirmed they attended the scene just after 6.00am yesterday morning.
“Officers from Northern Beaches Police Area Command attended an office on Pittwater Road, Narrabeen, just after 6.00am Wednesday, 18 May 2022, after receiving information that a man and woman were involved in a verbal altercation outside the office, before the man pushed the woman’s shoulder and walked away.
“The woman, aged 48, was uninjured and police were contacted. Initial inquiries have led police to believe the man and woman are not known to each other. As inquiries into the incident continue, anyone with information is urged to come forward and contact Northern Beaches police via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000,” said a NSW Police spokesperson.
With the matter under police investigation, the office of Independent candidate for Mackellar Dr Sophie Scamps was contacted for comment on the incident.
“The campaign is aware of an incident that took place on Wednesday, 18 May, that is currently under investigation by police. One of the people involved was a volunteer with the campaign. The volunteer has since resigned and has been removed from the campaign.
“The 1,200-plus volunteers involved in Sophie’s campaign all sign a code of conduct that ensures they adhere to the highest level of integrity and follow Sophie’s example to lead a positive and polite campaign. It is important that everyone in Mackellar, and across Australia, engages in respectful debate in the final days of this election,” said a spokesperson for Dr Scamps’ campaign.
Dr Scamps’ campaign would not formally comment on where the man had been authorised to place signs, but it is understood he had not been instructed to place signs directly in front of Mr Falinski’s electorate office and was acting of his own volition in doing so.
Only three days before Election Day, the incident is a disappointing lapse of discipline and follows another incident at Forestville RSL in which a volunteer for Dr Scamps’ campaign was forced to resign after police laid assault charges.
No staff were present at the electorate office at the time of the incident.
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.