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Election 2004: member for Swan claims defamation and wants matter investigated by the Electoral Commission.

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Wednesday 22 September 2004

Election 2004: member for Swan claims defamation and wants matter investigated by the Electoral Commission


MARK COLVIN: A Labor MP in one of We stern Australia's marginal seats has asked the Electoral Commission to investigate a bogus letter that allegedly defamed him. 


The letter appeared in a newspaper before the election campaign began but it's become the main campaign talking-point in the seat of Swan. 


An elderly constituent and friend of the Liberal candidate Andrew Murfin, initially claimed that Mr Murfin had written it and sent it under her name. Mr Murfin denied having anything to do with it, and the Liberals' State Director cleared him after an investigation. 


Now Labor wants the Electoral Commission involved. 


David Weber reports.  


DAVID WEBER: Labor's margin in Swan is only two per cent. The suburban Perth seat is one of the WA holdings that the Liberals have targeted for takeover. But it's an uphill battle, particularly in the wake of the preference deal with the Greens, which polled third highest in the seat in 2001. 


And there's been a couple of hitches in the Liberal Party's campaign. The now-mysterious letter published in a community newspaper was written under the name of an elderly woman living in Rivervale.  


The Labor MP, Kim Wilkie, referred the matter to the police.  


KIM WILKIE: The Deputy Police Commissioner has written back to me and advised that the matter should be taken up by the Electoral Commission, so we've referred it to the Electoral Commission for further investigation.  


DAVID WEBER: Referring it to the Police Commissioner, was that not over the top to some extent? 


KIM WILKIE: Well it was just the natural progression. Unfortunately, there was someone who was an 87-year-old woman had been accused of writing letters. She'd said she had nothing to do with it. So there was the issue of fraud in relation to her name being used when it wasn't her, it shouldn't have been, the fact that they were claiming that I hadn't been at a crime forum when I'd actually been at the crime forum.  


Now, crime has been raised by my opponent on a number of, a number of times it's been one of the issues in Swan, so for someone to say that I'd been involved in a crime forum but then hadn't turned up when in fact I had, for me was serious in the context of the campaign. 


DAVID WEBER: Mr Wilkie says he's not satisfied with the Liberal Party's internal investigation. 


But the Liberal candidate, Andrew Murfin, is sticking to his guns.