A Murwillumbah businessman and former candidate for the Tweed Shire Council election on September 10 has dropped a bombshell on local National Party big wigs who helped organise his campaign, after a fiasco in which his group’s nomination form for the poll were not lodged.
Pryce Allsop and other business identities including Rory Curtis, a senior National Party identity, were on a so-called ‘independent’ ticket which started campaigning with full page ads in a local newspaper, including last Wednesday, when the ballot was declared and nominations closed.
According to observers, National Party members at the ballot draw were in ‘meltdown’ when it became known that the Allsop group ticket nomination was not lodged.
‘We were gobsmacked, my teammates were really, really disappointed the forms weren’t lodged, I can’t understand why, I’ve asked those involved (including Mr Curtis) to explain but have not heard back yet,’ he told Echonetdaily.
He said he became interested in running for the local council after Mr Curtis had ‘been looking for people in Murwillumbah’ to run as a group ticket and ‘we were keen to run’.
Mr Allssop claimed his team was ‘independent’ and that he was unaware of the National Party links of the those backing his group bid and led by Mr Curtis, a former National Party electorate chairman for the Tweed.
Mr Curtis and his wife Deborah in the 2012 council poll donated $2,500 each to the campaign of the National Party aligned Carolyn Byrne, from Kingscliff, who is running again as head of a group ticket.
Echonetdaily has sought comment from Mr Curtis but none was forthcoming at the time of going to press.
An NSW Electoral Commission spokesman told Echonetdaily that ‘the people/group involved did not lodge nomination forms with the Returning Officer by the nominations deadline. They did not nominate for the Tweed Council election.’
Rory Curtis during a charity fundraiser recently
The spokesman said the appearance of the advertisement for the group in a local weekly last week was an ’anomaly’ as ‘it appears that the person/group may have placed the advertisement on the assumption that, by the time the ad appeared, they would be candidates for the election’.
Mr Pryce said he had contacted both the electoral commission and Mr Curtis in the past five days to find out what had happened to the nomination form, ‘so we can tell the press’ but had not heard back.
‘I’m not a happy chappy, all my teammates too, they are all innocent in this bungle,’ he said.
‘With all the time and money we spent in organising this then to find out it was not there, well, were absolutely gobsmacked.
‘I contacted them [Mr Curtis and his campaign helpers] just days before the forms had to be lodged to see if there was anything I could do , but they said all was fine.
‘I could’ve done it myself [lodge the form], I was happy to do so.
‘Even since last Wednesday people have been ringing us up offering support unaware there had been trouble, they’ve been really supportive.
‘I feel we’ve done the wrong thing by them and it’s hard to tell them we’re not running.
‘Four years is a bloody long time to wait again, I did my apprenticeship over many years before making the move and seeing what the future held for the shire, so it’s been disappointing to miss out.
‘We need cohesion on council, but what I’d really like to see is getting the state and federal government to improve the transport infrastructure in the region.
‘Through the tweed to Byron and beyond we need new public transport, sure we can’t afford it no but we have to set up the infrastructure plans in place,’ Mr Allsop said.
The Tweed Shire Council election is once again shaping up as a battle between progressives and conservatives for control of the seven-seat council.
(See previous story at https://www.echo.net.au/2016/08/groups-fight-control-tweed-council/