Carey’s review request regarding Kerr comments fails

INDEPENDENT COUNCIL ELECTION OBSERVER

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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The review came after Douglas Shire Councillor David Carey (left) alleged that fellow Councillor and Mayoral candidate Michael Kerr (right) made a false statement. Image: Newsport.
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A Review Request lodged by Douglas Shire Councillor David Carey regarding alleged comments relating to rate payments made by fellow Councillor and Mayoral candidate Michael Kerr in a radio interview, has failed after the review request was not upheld by the Independent Council Election Observer (ICEO).

In a statement issued to Newsport, the ICEO said: “On 26 January 2020, the ICEO received a review request from Cr David Carey, a member of the Douglas Shire Council. His review related to an interview that day on local radio in which Cr Carey alleges that Cr Michael Kerr, who is a candidate for Mayor at the up-coming elections, made a false statement to the effect ‘we are slugging investors more than they pay anywhere else in the country’. Cr Carey provided a link to a segment of the interview which the ICEO and his team have heard.”

But in their findings, and after Cr Kerr provided a full explanation to the ICEO supported by a range of documentation, the ICEO ruled “in those circumstances the ICEO does not uphold the review request.”

“Firstly, it is clear from the recording of the interview Cr Kerr qualified his comment. Secondly, in the context of the interview, his actual comment seems to be an expression of his personal opinion and not a statement of fact.

“Finally, because this issue is obviously one of public interest in the Shire and in particular in Port Douglas, the ICEO, pursuant to its charter, does not wish to interfere in robust debate about such issues leading up to the 28 March election,” the ICEO said in its statement.

“The interview was recorded when I was discussing an entirely different topic to do with the Arts. As the guest prior to me was the President of the newly-formed Douglas Shire Ratepayers’ Association, the compere took the opportunity to ask if I would like to make a comment about the new group. 

“During my response, I offered various personal opinions I have formed during my time as a councillor in the shire,” said Cr Kerr.

A delighted Cr Kerr says he feels even more focused on the upcoming 28 March election.

In his response, Cr Carey said that it is apparent that the ICEO thinks it is acceptable for a candidate to make false and misleading statements if it appears to be the personal opinion of the candidate.

“I’ll leave it to the voters of Douglas to decide whether in fact this is acceptable,” he said.

See the full ICEO statement. 


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