The Labor Party of NSW may not announce or endorse its local government election candidates until two days before candidate registrations close.
The General Secretary of NSW Labor, Ms Kaila Murnain, announced, via Twitter, shortly after 9:00am on Monday, July 24, that former Gosford Councillor, NSW Legislative Council Member and Federal Member for Robertson, Ms Belinda Neal, had been expelled from the party.
“The party officers today adopted the decision of the Internal Appeals Tribunal and resolved that Belinda Neal be expelled from NSW Labor,’ Ms Murnain’s tweet said. “The Internal Appeals Tribunal found that Ms Neal engaged in unworthy conduct and failed to support the Rules of the Labor party to the best of her ability,” NSW Labor said in a written statement.
“The NSW Labor Internal Appeals Tribunal (IAT) instructed the Party Office to delay announcing the result of the public selection ballot for Central Coast Council. “The IAT received a number of challenges to the eligibility of voters for the pre-selection. “The result of the ballot will be provided to party members as soon as the Review Tribunal has met to consider the challenges. “NSW Labor is dedicated to ensuring that Labor candidates for Central Coast Council are out campaigning as soon as possible,” the statement said. Via text message, Ms Neal, who had stood for preselection at the Woy Woy CWA Hall on Sunday, July 23, made a statement at 11.45am on July 24.
“I have been in hospital since 6:00am,” she said. “I have not seen anything but the media has rung. “The ALP Tribunal proceeded with a hearing in my absence when I had a medical certifi cate, so with only one side of the story being told, what would you expect? “The decision is subject to appeal to the review tribunal and I hope that they will deal with the claims fairly,” she said. Labor Party preselection for the Gosford West and Gosford East Wards took place at Woy Woy, whereas the party ballot for the other three wards was held at Ourimbah. It is understood the preselection votes were counted in the Wyong, The Entrance and Budgewoi Wards. Lead candidates were Lisa Matthews in The Entrance, Doug Vincent in Budgewoi and newcomer Kyle MacGregor in the Wyong Ward. Participants in the Gosford West and Gosford East ward preselection ballots were told ballot boxes would be sealed and taken to Sydney for counting.
One former senior Labor official who took part in the ballot said he believed the sealing and removal of ballot boxes was unprecedented in the party’s history. He said he believed the treatment of party members in the two wards had been “disgusting” and that he believed there was no legitimate reason votes could not have been counted at Woy Woy as “all disputes had been settled the night before”. The former party offi cial said he believed the expulsion of Belinda Neal and delay of vote counting was the continuation of an ongoing power struggle between the “Deborah O’Neill camp and the Belinda Neal and John Della Bosca camp that has been going on for years”.
Ms Neal had told Coast Community News on Thursday, July 22, that she was standing for preselection in West Gosford Ward. She was in hospital on Saturday with an illness, attended the preselection ballot at Woy Woy on Sunday, and then returned to hospital on the Monday morning. Her husband, former NSW parliamentarian, Mr John Della Bosca, attended the preselection ballot using a walking frame, as it is understood he had a hip surgery in the days prior to the vote. Coast Community News has requested interviews with Ms Murnain but she has been “unavailable”. Senator Deborah O’Neill, who is junior vice president of NSW Labor, would not comment on internal party matters.
Source: Media statement, Jul 24 David Dobson, NSW Labor Media statement, Jul 24 Belinda Neal, Woy Woy Bay Jackie Pearson, journalist