Mayoral candidate for 2020, Helen Blackburn.
Mayoral candidate for 2020, Helen Blackburn.

ICEO's ruling on election promise

AN investigation by the Independent Council Election Observor has deemed mayoral candidate Helen Blackburn's no rate rise promise not to be misleading.

ICEO was alerted to Ms Blackburn's no rate rise policy by current mayor and mayoral candidate Jack Dempsey.

The ICEO said the comments made by Ms Blackburn in a Facebook comment and video were not deceiving.

"The ICEO is also mindful that rates are always an important issue in any local government election.

"The ICEO does not find that Cr Blackburn was being deliberately misleading in making her statements in support of her candidature.

"However, in relation to the Toowoomba Regional Council reference, a deferment of rates is not a rate freeze."

Ms Blackburn said she had not expected her policy to be evaluated by the body.

"I was certainly surprised that I would be referred to a third party to question my integrity because nothing that I have told the public is without integrity," she said.

"I understand they are about truth in election campaigning and about accuracy and what is being said, but obviously they are an industry body and not a statutory authority so it doesn't hold any weight."

Mr Dempsey is currently a policy executive member for the Local Government Association of Queensland, which funds the ICEO.

When asked if there was a conflict Mr Dempsey said no and referred to the ICEO website which states, "while the ICEO is funded by the LGAQ it is operating independently from it".

Mr Dempsey said he thought all of Ms Blackburn's no rate rise claims should be checked by the independent observer.

"After seeing the other candidate's Facebook comments claiming that Toowoomba Regional Council had a rate freeze, I called Mayor Paul Antonio and asked him if it's true," Mr Dempsey said.

"He said it's not. "He categorically stated they've never had a zero rate rise and nor would they because they'd only be going backwards."

As for the outcome Mr Dempsey said he welcomed the decision made by the ICEO.

"The ICEO is a new initiative in Queensland to have an independent fact checker and it's a timely reminder for all candidates to be accurate in what they say," he said.



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