Branding illegal, says Shoebridge

Greens MP David Shoebridge has accused independent candidates for Fairfield Council of branding themselves as Independent Liberals while using  Liberal Party branding.

The Greens’ local government spokesman said this was despite their not being endorsed by the party.

The NSW Liberal Party has dumped its council candidates.

 Mr Shoebridge said independents had used photographs of  former prime minister John Howard in their election material. 

Fairfield Liberal councillor Zaya Toma has distributed flyers featuring the slogan ‘‘Our Independent Liberal Voice’’.

There is also an image of Premier Barry O’Farrell on his campaign website.

His flyer also features the words ‘‘Liberate Fairfield’’ in a virtual replica of the NSW Liberal Party’s official logo and ‘‘Our Liberal Voice’’ in Arabic and Chinese.

Cr Toma was forced to remove the words ‘‘Independent Liberal Voice’’ from his Facebook page.

 But Cr Toma said he had made it clear in his material that he was not an endorsed  candidate.

‘‘What I want people to remember is that I am a current Liberal Party councillor and member,’’ he said.

‘‘The Liberal Party isn’t endorsing any candidates, so for voters with liberal values, me and my team are the only choice.

‘‘I think it’s being open and transparent that voting for me is as good as voting for Liberal.

‘‘I don’t consider myself to have independent values, I consider myself to have liberal values.’’Mr Shoebridge said the candidates’ practices were illegal and despite being punishable with an $1100 fine, candidates usually received ‘‘a slap on the wrist’’.

‘‘This messaging is illegal and is fairly clearly intended to portray to voters that these candidates are supported by the Liberal Party,’’ he said.

‘‘Candidates who go out of their way to mislead voters about their party endorsement before the election should face the real threat of being thrown off the ballot.

“The Liberal Party needs to stand up to these rogue members and publicly disown them.

‘‘By staying silent the Liberal Party machine is allowing voters to be mislead.’’

The state director of the NSW Liberals, Mark Neeham, said if independent candidates misrepresented their status, it was up to the NSW Electoral Commission to take action.

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