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Thursday, 23 September 1999
Page: 10480

Mr ALBANESE (1:03 PM) —I rise to make some comments with regard to the local government elections held in New South Wales on Saturday, 11 September, and the history of senior members of the New South Wales division of the Liberal Party in trying to avoid the democratic will of the people.

Leichhardt Council is a somewhat famous council, made more so by the movie Rats in the Ranks. But stories of Leichhardt Council did not end in 1994. On 9 September 1995 there was a general election for Leichhardt Council. In the Glebe-Annandale Ward, Christine Bourne, the Liberal Party's No. 1 candidate, was successful over the ALP's No. 2 candidate, Ms Alice Murphy, by 17 votes. That was to be short-lived because, in the recount held on 15 September, that margin was reduced to three votes. Due to electoral irregularities, legal action was taken by Ms Murphy and on 27 September, in order to stop the mayoral election going ahead, an interlocutory injunction was granted to defer that mayoral election so that the challenge to the New South Wales Supreme Court, acting as a Court of Disputed Returns, could take place.

The mayoral election was indeed deferred for a short time. Unfortunately, some two months later the mayoral election did take place. Christine Bourne's vote at that mayoral election saw the NAN—No Aircraft Noise—Party candidate, Ms Maire Sheehan, elected mayor by that margin of one vote. We then had long legal proceedings. Ms Bourne engaged Peter King, a former head of the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party, as her barrister. Richard Smallwood was engaged as her solicitor. On 2 February, in order to show how keen they were to get costs, a bill of over $7,000 was sent to Ms Murphy on behalf of Mr Smallwood for the costs of that interlocutory proceedings.

What occurred after that was that the Court of Disputed Returns overturned the result and ordered that the ballot be recounted with the votes that should have been included to elect Ms Murphy to be included. In order to stop the democratic process and will of the people being carried out by the correctly cast votes being counted, Ms Bourne took further action. She appealed to the Court of Appeal and that court handed down its decision, which was to cast aside the election of Ms Bourne and order a by-election. That was not enough. The Liberal Party heavies, including Peter King, still acting as her barrister, appealed to the High Court of Australia to stop the democratic will of the people being exercised in Leichhardt council. They were again unsuccessful and costs were ordered against Ms Bourne for those proceedings, which by then had gone all the way to the High Court.

The by-election was then held on 14 June 1997. Ms Bourne, running under a `build Badgerys now' platform, failed to succeed in that by-election and Alice Murphy was elected by a significant majority. At that time it did not help that Christine Bourne was the executive director of a four-wheel drive group that had gone into the Wollemi pine, known as `the living fossil', and was advocating a free-for-all in national parks. This Christine Bourne has since shown her senior connections with the Liberal Party by being the state Liberal candidate for the marginal seat of Mulgoa at the last state election, and last Saturday she was a candidate for East Ward of Penrith council.

What is significant about Penrith and Leichhardt and the link with Ms Bourne is that front parties, the Seniors Party and the Marijuana Smokers Party, appeared in both Penrith and Leichhardt giving preferences to the Liberal Party. Christine Bourne, in spite of all this, has refused to pay any of her legal fees and was served a bankruptcy notice last Thursday in the electorate office of the member for Lindsay where she works. Why is it that the Liberal Party of New South Wales, and in particular the campaign being run out of Jackie Kelly's office, is prepared to go to any lengths to stop the democratic processes from taking place? There were other parties there, of course—most amusingly, the No Badgerys Creek Party, which, given that Christine Bourne campaigned for Badgerys Creek when she was in Leichhardt is quite an extraordinary situation. (Time expired)