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Controvery starts strongly in Victorian elect -

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Prominent Greens candidate Brian Walters is considered a strong chance of winning the marginal
state seat of Melbourne, but has been accused of hypocrisy for representing a mining company.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The first day of Victoria's election campaign has been dominated by
accusations Labor's involved in a smear campaign against a prominent Greens candidate.

Barrister Brian Walters is considered a strong chance of winning the marginal seat of Melbourne
from Labor.

On the weekend, he was branded a hypocrite for representing a mining company.

In turn Labor's been accused of anti-Semitic slurs against Mr Walters over the fact he once
represented an accused Nazi war criminal.

Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: As John Brumby was bricking up Labor's chances today, his party was
being accused of throwing dirt, after stories surfaced that a prominent Greens candidate and
barrister had once represented a coal company in court and acted for an old Nazi.

Brian Walters SC says the stories show Labor's desperation to hang on to the inner-city seat of
Melbourne, which it holds by just two per cent.

BRIAN WALTERS, GREENS CANDIDATE FOR MELBOURNE: People are very concerned about the way this
government has been behaving in its lack of transparency, its lack of accountability and they wanna
see that brought back into government. So it has backfired.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Labor minister Bronwyn Pike is sticking to her story, having accused Mr Walters
of representing a coal mining company in a WorkSafe case while publicly attacking the pollution
record of the national coal industry.

BRONWYN PIKE, VICTORIAN EDUCATION MINISTER: People do have choices and I think that when people are
so prominent in their criticism of a particular industry, then it does seem somewhat hypocritical
that then that becomes the industry that they are representing and supporting

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Despite the attack, Labor maintains it's accentuating the positive.

JOHN BRUMBY, VICTORIAN PREMIER: We'll be running a positive campaign with positive policies about
the future of our state. And, you know, I can't be clearer about this.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Labor's also accused of implying Mr Walters is anti-Semitic, by highlighting
his representation of alleged Nazi war criminal Konrad Kalejs, the information designed to sway
members of Melbourne's Jewish community.

BRIAN WALTERS: Well I've been disappointed obviously that we've reached the stage of politics where
one party can go into the gutter so readily.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The attacks have appalled many in Melbourne's legal community, which points out
barristers are ethically bound to take cases regardless of whether they agree with the client or
not.

COLIN LOVITT, BARRISTER: You don't have any choice; you have to act for someone if you are
available, it's in an area in which you practise and you're not embarrassed because you know
somebody involved in the case.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Colin Lovitt QC is one of Australia's most highly regarded barristers and says
the attacks on Mr Walters represent a low in the political life of Victoria.

COLIN LOVITT: I must say I'm very disappointed with those sort of allegations because it almost
smacks of desperation, for a start.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Labor is clearly worried about the Greens prospects in at least three
Labor-held inner-city seats, especially after the Greens won the federal seat of Melbourne in
August after the retirement of Lindsay Tanner.

While Brian Walters says he's been surprised by the personal nature of the attacks, he also had
this warning for Labor:

BRIAN WALTERS: Labor is only in power on Greens preferences now in Victoria. And for them to go
into the gutter in this way against the Greens shows that they don't really get it.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Preferences for the November 27th poll are yet to be decided by all parties.

Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline