THE authenticity of two Monash election candidates is being questioned after it was discovered they are preferencing Labor Party members despite describing themselves as ‘Liberal’ supporters.
A third candidate has also come under fire for preferencing a Liberal Party candidate despite saying he supports the trade union movement — a key ALP platform.
Mulgrave ward candidate and Liberal Party member Robert Davies has lodged a complaint with the Victoria Electoral Commission against fellow contender Tiffnee Mellech over her candidate statement on the VEC website.
The paragraph-long statement says Ms Mellech holds ‘‘strong Liberal values’’.
But despite this, her immediate preferences flow to known Labor Party members Paul Klisaris, John Sharkey, Micaela Drieberg and John Maddaluno.
Ms Mellech also preferences independent Anamika Srivastava, ALP member Li-Wen Huc, Australian Sex Party members Lisa Alexandra Chevallier and Neale Michael Wolfson, and Greens member John Janetzki ahead of anyone from the Liberal Party.
Mr Davies, who is Ms Mellech’s 15th preference, was furious at her alleged subterfuge.
‘‘She’s being false and misleading in her statement by saying she has ‘big L’ Liberal values and she’s preferencing somebody who is a well known Labor figure,’’ he said.
‘‘If she was preferencing people with Liberal values, I wouldn’t have an issue.’’
Returning officer for the Monash council election Jeff Gazzard said the VEC did not comment on complaints or challenges, but the Weekly understands the matter has been referred to the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate.
Cr Klisaris, who received Ms Mellech’s second preference, said the claims were ‘‘laughable’’ and accused Mr Davies of clutching at straws.
‘‘I think he’s out of step and out of touch with the community,’’ said Cr Klisaris, adding that he met Ms Mellech on the day she nominated for the election and discovered they had common ground.
‘‘People obviously chat; they find common ground and they support each other accordingly.
‘‘Tiffnee never gave me any indication that she was a Liberal Party member or Liberal voter. She was quite impressed and shared the same values I have. She was happy to give me her No. 2. That’s the extent of it.’’
Across town in the Mount Waverley ward, preference data shows that candidate Vicki Sifredi has preferenced ALP member and incumbent councillor Jieh-Yung Lo even though Ms Sifredi describes herself as ‘‘a Liberal supporter’’.
But Cr Lo said he didn’t broker a deal with Ms Sifredi and was surprised when he saw the preferences.
‘‘With preferences, people decide — if they can’t get in themselves — who they believe is the best person to do the job,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m flattered that some of the candidates in my ward have placed some confidence in me.’’
‘‘Yes, I’m an ALP member, but I’m not running as an ALP member — I’m running as an independent. I’m not endorsed by the party in any way. I’m my own man and I make my own decisions.’’
On the other side of politics, Oakleigh candidate Tony Nalbant has also come under fire for preferencing the Liberal Party’s Theo Zographos despite saying he’s ‘‘a strong supporter of workers’ rights’’ and that ‘‘the trade union movement should have a larger role’’ — both key Labor platforms.
Mr Zographos said the two men had spoken during preference negotiations about what they stood for.
‘‘In the event that he was not elected, he was happy to give me his second preferences,’’ Mr Zographos said.
‘‘At the end of the day, he’s made his decision to preference what he believes is the right future for our community.’’
Mr Zographos said he initially expected to be preferenced ‘‘high’’ by Mr Nalbant but was unaware he was receiving the second spot.
The Weekly has contacted Mr Nalbant for comment.
Ms Mellech and Ms Sifredi did not respond to the Weekly’s questions about their political affiliations.