By Alesha Capone
Several candidates in this month’s Wyndham council elections have called for an investigation following the release of ‘dubious’ how-to-vote material.
Wyndham residents have received an “election guide” in the mail, purporting to be “authorised by the Wyndham Ratepayers’ Association”.
However, the pamphlet does not contain the name and street address of who authorised its publication – a requirement of the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) – and the association does not appear to exist any more.
Star Weekly last week spoke to several Iramoo \ ward candidates who confirmed they had been contacted via email by the association asking about their policies.
Most said they had responded in good faith, believing the association to be genuine.
However, some questioned the legitimacy of the association, which does not appear to have an online or social media presence.
Candidate Mick Rowen said: “I gave no consent and I have not spoken to anyone from the organisation.”
Amandeep Kaur said she was “very surprised” to see her name on the flyer.
“Definitely this matter should be investigated properly,” she said.
Dhiren Trivedi, said he was “shocked” that his name appeared on the pamphlet. Iramoo ward nominee
Lisa Field called for “firm action” by the Local Government Inspectorate (LGI).
“We need to focus on the capable and experienced candidates, those who are running a genuine campaign,” she said.
Different versions of another document, spruiking itself as a “how to vote guide” from the “Independent Coalition for Good Governance”, have also been posted.
Harrison ward candidate Larry Zhao said he had never heard of the coalition, despite his name appearing in the top five on some its “how to vote” lists.
Mr Zhao said he has also noticed misleading posts in other languages on social media, claiming that Wyndham can only have one councillor from a certain cultural background.
“I do feel the LGI should jump in to monitor the process,” Mr Zhao said.
Harrison ward candidate Tully Smith said there had been instances of “unauthorised material” being sent out to voters.
“The VEC provides all candidates with an information pack, including a very clear set of guidelines,” Mr Smith said.
“It has been incredibly disappointing to see that some candidates have … chosen to ignore it.”
Star Weekly contacted the Wyndham Ratepayers’ Association’s email address and did not receive a response.