A FORMER district court judge has warned Redland City Council candidates that they should not resort to hyperbole and insults when campaigning in the forthcoming local government elections.
Independent Council Election Observer head John Robertson was responding to two complaints by division 7 candidate Rowanne McKenzie about division 9 political aspirant Adelia Berridge's Facebook comments.
Ms Berridge had alleged on Facebook that she was calling out waste in which a branding campaign for council and a "stupid" logo had cost about $500,000.
Ms McKenzie also asked the ICEO to review Facebook post by Ms Berridge about historical matters relating to Finucane Road.
Mr Robertson said Ms Berridge at first accused the ICEO of being mischievous and declined to respond to an invitation to supply evidence to back her claim on costs.
She later forwarded to the ICEO an email from council's communications manager Tracey Walker to Cr Murray Elliott, advising that a total spend of $223,990 had been made on the branding campaign.
Ms Berridge argued that if roll-out costs were added then the total figure might reach $600,000.
Mr Robertson said that in her explanation Ms Berridge seemed to accept that if branding campaign rollout figures were added then her claim about costs of about half a million would make sense.
Mr Robertson said he was not prepared to accept that Ms Berridge had been deliberately misleading so he dismissed Ms McKenzie's request for a review.
He also dismissed Ms McKenzie's second request because it did not fall within the ICEO charter.
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"The ICEO does not want to interfere with robust debate between candidates about local issues that are disputed," he said.
He called on all candidates when posting on social media to be careful about being accurate, particularly when criticising other candidates.
"I remain hopeful that candidates can engage in robust debate in a respectful manner without resort to insult and hyperbole," Mr Robertson said.
Ms Berridge said she was surprised to receive news of the complaint.
"It wasn't that I had got it wrong, quite the opposite. Anyone who has researched rebranding councils will know it costs huge dollars in the full roll-out," Ms Berridge said.
"I am out there every day in the community, talking to people, helping where I can, addressing issues while fitting in my day job and I have no time or interest to look at what candidates in my division are doing, let alone watching all the candidates in the nine other divisions.
"I'd like to know how an independent candidate has the time to read every candidates posts, every day. "
The ICEO is an independent act checking organisation set up by the Local Government Association of Queensland after a string of social media attacks on candidates in the 2016 election.
It follows the Crime and Corruption Commission's Operation Belcarra report. .
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