Councillors accused of using work cars in election campaign

With the federal election only days away, tensions have leaked down to a local level, with Brisbane City councillors attacking each other for using council vehicles to campaign.

Councillor Adrian Schrinner used question time on Tuesday to defend fellow Liberal National Party councillor Jane Prentice against Labor accusations at committee meetings.

He said Labor councillors including Opposition Leader Cr Shayne Sutton had accused Cr Prentice of using her ratepayer-funded car in her campaign to be elected to the federal seat of Ryan.

“There were accusations made in the chamber by numerous Labor councillors including Cr Sutton when they were yelling out about Cr Prentice using her council car,” he said.

“They tried to suggest that somehow Cr Prentice was using her council vehicle for election campaign purposes.”

He said Cr Prentice was taking leave without pay to campaign for the federal election, and had not misused her council car in any way.

“Cr Prentice is doing the right thing. She has hired a vehicle throughout the extent of the federal campaign so she is not using her rate-payer funded vehicle for the election campaign. They are the facts,” he said.

But Cr Schrinner said although the Opposition had attacked Cr Prentice for using her car in the campaign, he had photographs of Cr Sutton using her own ratepayer-funded Subaru to carry election signs.

“I have the photos here of her taking out the signs from her ratepayer-funded car and we see the final one here, who’s she campaigning for? Her good friend Kevin Rudd,” he said.

Cr Sutton hit back later in the afternoon, saying the LNP was hypocritical for attacking her on the issue and singled out Cr Ian McKenzie for his support of Kevin Rudd’s opponent.

“Clearly LNP councillors are using their cars to campaign in this federal election,” she said.

“I am aware that Cr McKenzie right now in the back of his car if we march down to King George Square we will find signs for Rebecca Docherty, the LNP candidate for Griffith.”

Cr Sutton called for a suspension of standing orders to debate the use of ratepayer-funded cars during election campaigns.

“Let’s in the dying days of this campaign have some clairty about exactly what we are and aren’t allowed to do so everyone’s reputation is protected,” she said.

The motion was voted down 15 to 10, with independent Councillor Nicole Johnston voting with the ALP.

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