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  • Councillors quiet: Murray alone in overt Nats pick

    2018 - 07.06

    TAMWORTH’S councillors have attempted to distance themselves from mayor Col Murray’s controversial decision to support Nationals MP Kevin Anderson ahead of the election.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Councillor Murray’s choice to enter the political fray and endorse the incumbent in a Nationals television commercial has sparked fierce criticism from many in the community.

    Independent candidate Peter Draper went as far as calling for Cr Murray’s resignation for clearly aligning himself – and by extension, the entire council – to Mr Draper’s rival.

    The Leader has been inundated with calls and letters in recent days from people furious that Cr Murray, speaking in his capacity as mayor in the ad, would pick a side in the campaign.

    “Since when does the mayor of Tamworth Regional Council, Col Murray, have the authority to endorse the National Party’s Tamworth seat candidate Kevin Anderson?” said letter writer Julie Bennett.

    “Does this have the approval of the other Tamworth regional councillors and their full support?”

    Despite Cr Murray telling The Leader on Tuesday he expected some backlash from his fellow councillors, his colleagues have not criticised him publicly.

    But the majority were at pains to stress that the mayor was expressing his individual view in the advertisement and not a formal position of the council.

    “I see one of the strengths of our council is being non-political and I’m happy to keep it that way,” Cr Juanita Wilson said.

    “This is to be seen as the endorsement of an individual and not an endorsement of the Tamworth Regional Council.”

    Cr Helen Tickle said simply that she believed “council should remain apolitical”, while Cr Mark Rodda said he had his “own thoughts” and the mayor “hasn’t spoken for me”.

    Veteran councillor Warren Woodley said he was “happy” with the mayor’s stance as to “start over again with an independent would be a shame”.

    “I want to be able to continue with the Coalition government on all the talks we’ve had in regards to lots of major issues that we’ve been working on for a year or two now,” he said.

    Deputy mayor Russell Webb said it was Cr Murray’s “own personal decision” and he had “done it for the right reasons”.

    “The council will never adopt a position to do that, but each individual councillor has a democratic right to put forward their feelings about something,” he said.

    Former mayor James Treloar said during his tenure he decided against endorsing candidates, but cast no judgment over Cr Murray’s stance.

    “Col’s quite entitled to make that decision and do that … and I’m certainly not going to enter into the debate about whether that’s right or wrong,” he said. “I can only say that I chose not to, but I can’t say whether I was right or wrong.”

    Cr Phil Betts said councillors were “individuals, and whatever individuals do is up to them”.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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