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Our Joe is in with a chance

10 Nov 2016

Our Joe is in with a chance Image

By Shane Scanlan

Southbank’s Joe Sarraf has a chance of becoming a councillor in the fallout of a scandal that looks like preventing indigenous candidate Brooke Wandin taking up her seat on the Melbourne City Council.

Councillor-elect Wandin opted not to be sworn in on November 2 amid claims that she incorrectly enrolled herself as a resident at the Kensington address of former ALP councillor Richard Foster.

The Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate is investigating, with the possibility of fraud charges against Ms Wandin as the most dramatic consequence.  

In the event of Ms Wandin being ruled ineligible, it is likely that her position on council would pass to running mate Nic Frances Gilley.  It is unclear whether Mr Frances Gilley would be interested in taking up the role and, if not, a count-back would see one of three likely contenders being offered the seat.

The three most likely candidates are Mr Sarraf, former councillor Stephen Mayne and Bruce Poon from the Animal Justice Party.

Neither Ms Wandin or Mr Frances Gilley were expected to actually win a seat on the council.  They were supposed to be lord mayoral candidates who would channel votes to Mr Foster who was seeking one of the nine councillor positions.

However, on the last day for nominations, it appears the pair mistakenly listed themselves for the councillor contest instead of the lord mayoral race.  

At the time, Mr Foster claimed to Southbank Local News that there was no mistake and that this was a deliberate strategy to run two supporting teams in the councillor election.

But, in the ensuing fallout, Mr Foster ended up preferencing the pair close to the bottom on the ballot paper and it is widely speculated that he was complicit in the complaint against Ms Wandin.  

Mr Foster did not return Southbank Local News’s calls. Ms Wandin and Mr Frances Gilley are similarly tight-lipped.

Of the 72,398 formal votes cast, Ms Wandin’s “An Indigenous Voice on Council” team polled just 1628 but was heavily preferenced by other candidates.  

Mr Sarraf’s “Melburnian Voice” group polled 805 votes, Mr Mayne’s group polled 3644 votes and Mr Poon’s party attracted 1768 votes.

It is not known when the Local Government Inspectorate will announce its findings, but it is expected to take some months.

In the meantime, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle will enjoy an effective majority on council – having five seats and a casting vote in the event of a five/five vote.

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