Controversy shrouds council election as Gundagai group left off ballot paper over what former mayor deems a technicality

At this stage, former Gundagai mayor Ab McAlister, together with three other Gundagai candidates, will not be on the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council ballot paper after a technicality with their nomination ruled them out of the running.
At this stage, former Gundagai mayor Ab McAlister, together with three other Gundagai candidates, will not be on the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council ballot paper after a technicality with their nomination ruled them out of the running.

Four Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council candidates from Gundagai have been left off the ballot paper due to a technicality with their paperwork. 

At 9:48am this morning, Ab McAlister, David Graham, Peter Gain, Penny Nicholson and Amy Turner lodged their intention to run as a group at the September 9 Local Government election with the returning officer in Cootamundra.

Mr Gain had also nominated to run as an individual. 

All nominations had to be in by 12noon today. 

Members of the group were informed by the returning officer they should wait in Cootamundra for an hour or so and in the event there was a problem with their paperwork they would be notified via email and they could rectify it. 

When they heard nothing, they ventured back to Gundagai readying themselves for the ballot draw at 6pm tonight. 

At 5:36pm tonight, Mr McAlister received an email from the Electoral Commission stating that a section of the Candidate Information Sheet had not been witnessed correctly rendering the nomination invalid. 

The sheet requires the witness to tick an appropriate box stating either they saw the face of the person nominating or they did not see the face of the person because the person was wearing a face covering but they were satisfied the person had a special justification for not removing the covering. 

In the case of Mr McAlister’s group, both of these options were checked by the witness. 

By the time the group was notified, nominations had closed and it was even too late to contact the NSW Electoral Commission Candidate Helpdesk.

Mr McAlister has been left extremely disappointed by the turn of events and is hoping it can be rectified tomorrow, either by re-doing the ballot draw or adding the group to the bottom of the ballot draw. 

The technicality leaves Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council constituents with only four candidates from the former Gundagai Shire to choose from out of a pool of 24.

Nine councillors will be elected to represent on council in the end. 

“People are missing out on the opportunity of having two accountants (Mr Graham and Ms Turner) and two businesspeople (Ms Nicholson and Mr McAlister) represent them,” Mr McAlister said. 

“All over what is to me a ridiculous misdemeanor,” he continued. 

Despite publicly stating he was against the amalgamation since before it was set in stone by the former premier, Mr McAlister had also made public his intention to put these feelings aside in order to represent the greater interests of the residents of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council.  

Having nominated as an individual, as well as in the group, Mr Gain’s individual nomination was accepted and thus he is included on the ballot paper. 

Meanwhile, tonight’s ballot draw revealed two groups that constituents will have the opportunity to vote for; the first on the ballot paper being Dennis Palmer, Ron Magnone, Rosalind Wight, Diane Williams, Michael Kingwill, Jennie Maslin and Peter Batey, while a second group is made up of Doug Phillips, Craig Stewart, Stephen Doidge, Janet McAtear and Ian Armstrong. 

These two groups are followed individual candidates in ballot order Gil Kelly, Isabel Scott, Mary Donnelly, Leigh Bowden, James Childs, Konrad Streher, David Harris, Peter Gain, Roderick Chalmers, James Slattery, John Stephens and Charlie Sheahan.