by Joel Gould
IPSWICH councillor Kylie Stoneman has told the Crime and Corruption Commission public hearing she could not be considered a true independent if the ALP was providing support for her election campaign.
Cr Stoneman, a Labor Party member who ran as an independent at the 2016 Ipswich council elections, then went on to confirm that the ALP's Blair MP Shayne Neumann had provided both financial backing, albeit modest, for her campaign and that he had assisted her on election day.
Mr Neumann, the ALP's most powerful Ipswich politician, is also on the public record in the QT before the election as saying Cr Stoneman was the best suited candidate to represent Division 4.
The questioning from counsel assisting the hearing Glen Rice, QC, was intended to flesh out what it means to be an "independent" and whether that independence is compromised, or perceived to be, when candidates who run as such also receive the backing of prominent ALP figures.
Part of that transcript is as follows:
GR: You conducted your campaign as an independent campaign am I right - that is to say not party endorsed?
GR: When you interfaced with electors - either personally or on some kind of social media - did you promote yourself as an independent candidate?
KS: There was definitely a distance between running as an ALP person. I didn't hide the fact that I was an ALP member.
GR: You say you didn't hide it. Did people ask you about it?
GR: You told them?
GR: So what in your view is the content of you being an independent when you are known to be a Labor Party member?
KS: I would dare say that I wouldn't have been independent if the ALP were paying for the campaign or providing support for the campaign...then I couldn't possibly call myself independent.
GR: You didn't get support of that kind?
GR: OK. You got some assistance from Mr Neumann, your former employer, during the campaign and on election day.
KS: Yeah, he was supportive.
GR: Supportive in a general way firstly I suppose.
KS: Yes, of course.
GR: And more specifically on election day, what sort of support did he give you?
KS: He handed out (how-to-vote cards) for an hour or so.
Cr Stoneman then confirmed Mr Neumann volunteered to assist on election day and that he made a financial campaign contribution (of $820), which both parties declared.
Cr Stoneman said she had her family and friends, a number of whom were ALP members, assisting her on election day.
She said some of those who helped her on election day "probably" helped other candidates but said she was not aware of any arrangement for that to occur.
Mr Rice's thrust was summed up by the following question:
"Do you think that being an ALP member, receiving a kind of donation from a Labor MP and using volunteers, at least some of whom were party members, served to erode your presentation of independence as a candidate?"
Cr Stoneman's answer suggested that was the perception, but not one she subscribed to.
"It did as far as the media did portray that and other people that were running against me portrayed that, but I don't believe that was the case," she replied.