Gundagai group turns to lawyers to be included on the CGRC ballot paper

Penny Nicholson, 45, runs the Gundagai Newsagency with her husband and was keen to stand for council until an error on her group's paperwork rendered their nomination invalid.

Penny Nicholson, 45, runs the Gundagai Newsagency with her husband and was keen to stand for council until an error on her group's paperwork rendered their nomination invalid.

A technicality with their paperwork rendered a group of Gundagai-based councillors unable to stand for Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council earlier this week and now the group is relying on a similarly technical legal loophole to be included on the ballot paper. 

Ab McAlister, David Graham, Peter Gain, Penny Nicholson and Amy Turner would have been one of three groups to contest the election, together with 12 individual candidates. 

They missed out after a section of the Candidate Information Sheet was not 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 the Gundagai group, both of these options were checked by the witness. 

By the time they knew anything about the mistake, it was too late; the nomination period had closed. 

Since yesterday morning, Mr McAlister has been in contact with a reputable Local Government lawyer who has advised that the Oaths Act 1900 demonstrates that the nomination should not have been rejected on the the basis it was. 

He has taken this information to the Electoral Commission who have advised they are still considering the matter. 

Meanwhile, Gundagai locals have been mounting their own campaign to have the group included sending numerous emails and making many phone calls to the commission. 

A 12noon deadline today officially declaring the candidates may not amount to anything if the Gundagai group can prove their claim they should not have been left off the ballot paper in the first place. 

Mr McAlister defended the group’s decision to lodge their paperwork on the final possible morning, saying Mr Gain had been away with work until this week. 

All five members of the group met on Monday evening before hand-delivering their forms to the returning officer in Cootamundra on Tuesday. 

An initial error picked up by the returning officer was rectified and they returned on Wednesday, the final day to nominate, with what they thought was completed paperwork. 

Mr McAlister is not giving up on the possibility of the group being added to the ballot, however said he has been disappointed by many things related to council in the past 18-months. 

As Mr Gain had nominated as an individual as well as within the group, his name will appear for voters come Saturday, September 9. 

Other candidates include group one 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. 

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