Twelve of the 28 candidates at the upcoming Dubbo Regional Council election are members of an Australian political party.
Country Labor candidate Stephen Lawrence wants the public to know the political affiliations of candidates so they can factor that into their voting.
In particular, Mr Lawrence focused on Ben Shields and Dayne Gumley, who he said held senior positions in the NSW Liberal Party.
“One of the major problems in local government generally is undeclared groupings, unidentified interests and hidden sympathies. People are entitled to know the party memberships of candidates and to vote accordingly,” Mr Lawrence said.
“[Mr] Shields is western NSW’s most senior Liberal. He sits on the decision-making executive body of the party.
“Mr. Gumley is also a senior local Liberal. Yet both will be presenting to voters as non-aligned candidates.”
Mr Lawrence said he believed any candidate who was a member of a party should declare themselves.
Candidates are required to list if they are a member of any party on their nomination form, and that is available on the NSW Electoral Commission website.
Mr Shields and Mr Gumley are both listed as Liberal Party members and Mr Shields said he wasn’t hiding it.
“Everyone in Dubbo who follows council is aware that I am a Liberal and conservative minded. I have never made a secret of this,” he said.
“However, I also have a track record of voting against the Liberal Party in council matters when I disagree. For example I opposed the amalgamation both in council and also within the party.”
Mr Shields said he had never been directed by the Liberals to vote any way and would refuse if asked.
Mr Lawrence and his running mate Cody Jones are both members of the Country Labor Party and the only candidates running on a ticket endorsed by a party.
“Mr Lawrence needs to focus on his own party political issues,” Mr Shields said.
“I challenge him to prove that as an actual officially endorsed Labor candidate, will he be able to refuse directions from the Labor hierarchy?
Other candidates who disclosed political party membership were fellow Ben Shields team nominees Nikki Catelotti (Central ward) and Greg Mohr (South).
Nathan Ellis (North) is also a Liberal member.
In the Wellington ward, Mike Augee is a Country Labor member, while Jacob Perry is registered with the Nationals.
Greg Matthews (Central) and Kevin Parker (South) are also aligned to the National Party. Kris Stevens (Central) is listed as a Greens member.