The Ballina National Party candidate, Ben Franklin, has defended a complaint made against him for establishing a campaign office in close proximity to that of sitting Greens MP, Tamara Smith.
Nationals MLC Ben Franklin was referred the clerk of the Legislative Assembly according to Ms Smith, yet The Echo understands the location of his new Ballina office breaks no parliamentary regulations.
Ms Smith toldThe Echo the office is misleading the electorate because it implies he is the local MP. ‘The guy is ruthless,’ she said.
The NSW seat of Ballina encompasses Ballina and Byron shires.
With the election slated for March, Franklin’s government believes it has a good chance of winning the seat and has been spending big on the Ballina electorate.
It’s perhaps the biggest spend ever on the seat of Ballina, which has seen decades of neglect. The term to try and win votes through spending on an electorate is commonly known as ‘pork barrelling.’
Despite Ms Smith claiming his office is just metres away, Franklin told The Echo his office is on an entirely different street.
He said, ‘This is a very strange contention. In no way am I suggesting I am the local member! My office has the signage of a usual and standard campaign office – the sort that all parties set up for their candidates in each seat they are contesting. It says my name and the seat I am running for. Frankly it would be quite strange if it said anything else!’
‘The fact that the office is situated in River Street is simply because that is the main street in the largest town in the electorate – which is no doubt exactly the same reason that Tamara has her electorate office close to there!
‘The office I have taken is one of the only ones which was available for rent in River Street, a product of the town’s booming economic activity.
‘For decades political candidates have established their offices in the main street of the largest town in the electorate they were contesting in the run up to the election. To suggest that this is inappropriate is perplexing and bizarre.’