Candidates threaten court action over confiscated posters
AUSTRALIAN Independents candidates Dr Patricia Petersen and Shannon Deguara will take the Ipswich City Council to court over confiscated signs.
The duo is also refusing to pay more than $14,000 in potential fines.
Mr Deguara, the party's candidate for Blair, had 25 of his signs impounded while senate hopeful Dr Petersen had one retrieved yesterday by council officers.
Cr Andrew Antoniolli said the signs had been confiscated because the two candidates had not paid a $540 bond or filled out the necessary paperwork and because the signs were illegally positioned on public property.
Each illegal sign attracts a penalty of $550 so the candidates' fines already total $14,300.
The QT has seen photos of Mr Deguara's signs on telegraph polls and on roadsides while Dr Petersen had a sign removed from beside the Cunningham Hwy yesterday.
Cr Antoniolli said council was prepared to waive the fines for Mr Deguara and return his signs as he was a new candidate with little election experience, so long as he paid his bond like the other candidates. But Mr Deguara told the QT he would "take council to court as a matter of principle".
Cr Antoniolli said the two candidates were not being singled out.
"The law is the law and no candidate is above it," he said.
"Ms Petersen has been in numerous elections and she knows the law.
"The majority of candidates are doing the right thing and we are only acting upon those doing the wrong thing. Our local laws were reviewed by, and signed off by, the State Government and they allow us to regulate signs.
"The main reason why we have a policy that signs are not to be put in public places is for public safety.
"Council doesn't care whose signs they are. If they are in the wrong spot, they will be dealt with.
"We have one person here who wants to buck the system and show they have no respect for law. But Shannon has been led down the garden path, and possibly by his leader."
Dr Petersen said she was "very proud of Mr Deguara for choosing to stand up for what's right".
"This isn't about signs being stolen....it's about democracy in the Blair electorate being undermined by Labor," she said.
"Mr Antoniolli is now attempting to represent our candidate as young, silly and naive but Mr Antoniolli is very well aware of the law and understands very well that he does not have the authority to fine any candidate for putting up election signs.
"This is evidenced by the fact that I have reminded Ipswich City Council over 500 times that they were given a court directive to meet me in court but they are refusing to do so. That was for fining me for putting up election signs at the last state election."
When asked whether she would pay her bond and fines Dr Petersen replied: "I am not paying a cent and I am going to continue to put my signs up".
She said she would report the council to the CMC and ombudsman's office.
Cr Antoniolli said he was not fazed by the threat of court action but was disappointed by Mr Deguara's response.
"He's been given his carrot. If he doesn't want to take the carrot, that is what the law is there for.
"His signs stay where they are until he pays."