Candidates dilute vote

By Nathan Evans

A rush of late nominations ? the latest received just 30 minutes before the cut-off ? has brought the number of candidates set to contest the April 21 council by-election to fill Vivien Griffin's vacated Division Four seat to 11.

The position, controversially vacated when Ms Griffin resigned claiming her green perspective was being overshadowed by a mostly "pro-development mob" of councillors, has seen the Greens political party nominate a candidate, setting a political first for Noosa Shire.

The wide field of candidates with similar environmental platforms threatens to split the environmental vote into dilution, according to at least one political academic, who has labelled the first-past-the-post voting process a "farce".

University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer in politics and international relations Bronwyn Stevens fears the absence of preferential voting where a large field of candidates share similar platforms could see an unwanted candidate with minority views elected.

"The fact there is no preferential voting, and that it's first past the post, in my opinion turns it into a farce, to be perfectly honest," she said.

Returning officer John Kelly said the Local Government Act prohibited preferential voting.

In response to claims her nomination may spread green votes too thinly for success, Greens-backed candidate Di Bennett, a Division Four resident of more than two decades, urged voters to look for credibility and not "green veneer".

"There's only one assured candidate for the green vote. I have a party behind me, whose policies are on the website. I'm ratified and endorsed by the Greens party," she said.

Other candidates tipped to hold the green vote include former Noosa News reporter Frank Wilkie, media and surf lifesaving identity Scott Braby, Noosa Council heritage officer Anne-Marree Fewtrell and former Noosa MP Cate Molloy, who have all promised to fight for the integrity of the town plan and Noosa's way of life.

The latest candidates to come forward include Noosa's famous sand sculptor Dennis Massoud, business owner Chris Ladd, nuclear medicine technologist Merren Bremner and former bank manager Lorei Thompson.

Candidate Chris Ladd, who has lived in Peregian Beach for 21 years, said maintaining Noosa's green-space was "a given" for candidates, while keeping down costs to ratepayers once Noosa reached the population cap was crucial.

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