Can you see a certain similarity between the election logo that was being used by independent candidate for Richmond, Ray Karam, and that of The Greens?
Mr Karam’s Greens opponent, Byron acting mayor Michael Lyon certainly could.
Cr Lyon made a formal complaint to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) over Mr Karam’s election material, arguing it was a deliberate ploy to take votes from The Greens.
It resulted in the AEC sending a letter to Mr Karam, who has now promised to change his t-shirts and how-to-vote cards to be less like those of The Greens.
Mr Karam told The Echo: ‘I had a chat to Michael and said I would change a couple of things that he was concerned about, and then show him [the new material] prior to moving forward.’
‘I did that out of respect because that’s how we move forward as a society,’ he said.
Cr Lyon said Mr Karam had been ‘making a direct play’ for The Greens primary vote.
‘That will not only affect us in this election, but has an impact on our future electoral funding [which is based on primary vote],’ Cr Lyon said prior to Mr Karam agreeing to change the material.
He also accused Mr Karam of trying to ‘harvest votes for the Nationals’.
He said that Mr Karam’s how-to-vote cards advise locals to put The Nationals before Labor, and that this could make a difference in a very tight election.
‘He’s put The Greens second but I think that’s a smoke screen,’ Cr Lyon said.
‘If we get knocked out and it turns into a really close two-horse race between Labor and the Nats then those preference votes could make the difference.’
When pressed, Mr Karam denied that he had was attempting to steal votes from The Greens by imitating their logo.
He declined to comment directly on the claim that he was harvesting votes for the Nationals, saying ‘you’re better off asking Michael about that…that wasn’t part of our conversation’.
Speaking in more general terms, Mr Karam said the incident had served to confirm why he was running.
‘I feel like people should be more engaged in the process. The way we engage is paramount,’ he said.