NSW election 2019: Labor leader Michael Daley defends Kate Washington over electoral roll claims

SUPPORT: Labor leader Michael Daley has come out in defence of Port Stephens MP Kate Washington.
SUPPORT: Labor leader Michael Daley has come out in defence of Port Stephens MP Kate Washington.

Opposition leader Michael Daley has sought to deflect allegations Port Stephens MP Kate Washington illegally accessed the electoral roll by accusing the NSW Liberal Party of using "Vladimir Putin-style tactics to discredit a good woman".

The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that Ms Washington had sent screen shots of electoral-roll searches to an ABC journalist for a story on what she regarded as fake Facebook accounts.

It was reported last week that Ms Washington had written to the Clerk of the Parliament calling for an investigation into the four accounts, which she suspected were controlled by a Liberal supporter.

Monday's Telegraph report said Liberal boss Chris Stone had complained in writing to the NSW Electoral Commission of a "potentially serious breach of the Electoral Act".

Mr Stone's letter reportedly said the ABC journalist had forwarded the screen shots to Liberal Party communications director Ian Zakon.

The Telegraph report said the electoral roll information had included the voter's suburb and age, but their addresses had been redacted.

Standing beside Mr Daley at a media conference in Sydney on Monday, Ms Washington said the claims were "nothing but a Liberal party smear campaign designed to distract from their use of fake Facebook profiles to troll me for six months now".

"As a member of parliament I'm entitled to use the electoral roll, and it was used for purposes that were legal, to determine whether or not I could assist people in my community," she said.

As a member of parliament I'm entitled to use the electoral roll, and it was used for purposes that were legal.

Kate Washington

When pressed on whether she was entitled to pass electoral-roll searches to a third party, she said: "This is with the Electoral Commission."

Ms Washington said she had not been contacted by the Electoral Commission nor seen confirmation a complaint had been made.

The commission stated the Herald, a parent publication of the Examiner, on Monday that it "does not comment on compliance matters or whether it is, or is not, conducting an investigation".

Ms Washington said the four Facebook accounts had been deleted since she had raised them publicly.

Mr Daley said the Facebook accounts had been "trolling Kate viciously" and accused the Liberal Party of being unable to "win clean".

He said the Liberals had breached Finance Department databases to leak information last month regarding a speeding fine incurred by his wife, Christina. 

The claims and counter-claims in Port Stephens reflect its importance to both sides on March 23. Ms Washington holds the seat with a 4.7 per cent margin.

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