Paterson's major party candidates forced to clear their names

Paterson Labor MP Meryl Swanson and Liberal candidate Sachin Joshi.
Paterson Labor MP Meryl Swanson and Liberal candidate Sachin Joshi.

After a rather low-key few months in the federal election campaign in Paterson, the heat was turned up this week on the two major party candidates who were compelled to defend their integrity and clear their names of allegations in the media.

Just days after Liberal candidate Sachin Joshi called out the Sydney Morning Herald as having "misrepresented his position" on gender pay, Labor's Meryl Swanson was forced to profess her eligibility as an MP after claims in The Australian that she could have breached Section 44 of the Constitution.

The article stated that Ms Swanson may have been ineligible to enter parliament as she was "the co-owner of a company that owes a tax debt to the commonwealth".

Ms Swanson's legal advice states there "is no breach of Section 44 and to imply otherwise is both false and misleading".

"Swanridge Investments Pty Ltd has a tax debt to the commonwealth which it is repaying. [Ms Swanson] is not personally liable for this debt and she is not a party to the repayment agreement between Swanridge and the Commonwealth."

Labor MP Meryl Swanson.

Labor MP Meryl Swanson.

With just nine days to go before the May 18 poll, Port Stephens voters have been spared the constant bombardment of campaign promises and accusations of dirty tactics which marred the recent state election.

The Liberal Party, which courted its state candidate Jaimie Abbott with close to $1 billion in election commitments, once comfortably held Paterson but lost it at the 2016 election following a redistribution of the seat.

Ms Swanson currently holds the seat by 10.5 per cent.

In his first commitment if the Morrison government is re-elected, Mr Joshi pledged $25,000 towards the Tanilba Bay Fitness Station.

"Currently, people on the Tilligerry peninsula have to drive to Nelson Bay for exercise equipment," he said.

Labor has focused its efforts on education in Port Stephens, investing in excess of $120,000 to three public schools.

"Labor is not taking this seat for granted. My team has been working long hours on the phone, door-knocking, conducting ceremonies and attending prepoll ... we are treating this like any other election."

Ms Swanson said that most people she had met at the pre-polling booths had been supportive.

"I have had people tell me about their financial struggles, the rising cost of living and low wages. Mr Morrison may be trumpeting about the strong economy but it's not equating with many people in Paterson."

The PFAS contamination has emerged as the major issue with United Australia Party's Graham Burston, One Nation's Neil Turner and The Greens' Jan Davis all declaring political action if elected.

Ms Swanson promised an announcement on Labor's policy before the election, while the inaction of the government following the senate inquiry has riled many Williamtown residents.

Ms Davis said that she had satisfied many voters at pre-poll about renewable energy issues and "our transport solutions are resonating in Port Stephens, as are our policies in support of women and people with a disability".

Liberal Party candidate Sachin Joshi.

Liberal Party candidate Sachin Joshi.

Two local candidates will contest the Senate - United Australia Party's Brian Burston and Port Stephens resident Jewell Drury representing the Australian Better Families Party.

Mr Burston said he had put forward a motion to the Australian Senate in August 2018 for PFAS to be banned nationally and for the government to begin a voluntary buyback program.

"It was voted down by the government and the Labor Party."

Ms Drury has supported Port families through the emotional, psychological and financial burden of the family law court and believes it is time to make changes to the current system.

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