PARTY CHOICE: LNP candidate for Oxley Andrew Nguyen.
PARTY CHOICE: LNP candidate for Oxley Andrew Nguyen. Claudia Baxter

Coalition candidate stole Labor campaign signs

THE LNP candidate hoping to unseat the ALP's Bernie Ripoll in Oxley has previously appeared in court for stealing Labor campaign signs.

Andrew Nguyen pleaded guilty in Richlands Magistrates Court in 2009 to stealing a Labor campaign sign belonging to former Mt Ommaney MP Julie Attwood in Sherwood, Brisbane.

He was fined $300, but no conviction was recorded.

Mr Nguyen told The Queensland Times last night that "we all do things when we are young and naive that we regret and I am very remorseful for what happened".

"I accepted the punishment of the court and the party," he said.

"This has been raised before...so now I am just really looking forward to contesting the next election and hopefully getting the support from the people of Oxley to be their federal member."

But the LNP's state MP for Ipswich West - Sean Choat - said Mr Nguyen's actions had been "childish and something you might see in a school yard".

At the time of the theft Mr Nguyen was a law student and the campaign manager for the LNP's candidate for Inala, Leo Perkins. He has also worked for Liberal senator George Brandis, the Shadow Attorney-General.

The court heard that Mr Nguyen was seen committing the crime with an accomplice while driving in a Mercedes. He had earlier been seen by a witness attempting to steal another sign.

Nominations for all political candidates close at noon today with the Australian Electoral Commission and the Coalition may be under pressure this morning to disendorse Mr Nguyen after Labor took the high moral ground and disendorsed two candidates over the weekend.

Geoff Lake, the former Labor candidate for Hotham in Melbourne, was disendorsed for calling a wheelchair bound woman a "f**ing bitch" 12 years ago.

Queensland candidate Ken Robertson was also disendorsed for the seat of Kennedy, held by Bob Katter, when he accused Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of being a racist who wanted a return to the White Australia Policy.

Mr Nguyen's sign-stealing past was known to the LNP at the time of his selection for Oxley last year and he said he had not tried to hide from his history.

"I have been out on the campaign for 13 months now and I am not shying away from what has happened," he said.

Oxley MP Ripoll said Mr Nguyen's candidacy was a matter for the Coalition to make a judgement call on.

"It is up to them to make those decisions," he said.

Mr Ripoll backed the actions of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in disendorsing the two Labor candidates.

"Labor has set high standards, and they are community standards, and we'll be sticking to what we do," he said. "I am very much in support of the high standards that Kevin Rudd has put in place, including the actions he has taken in recent weeks."

Meanwhile, Mr Choat said he hoped Mr Nguyen had learned that theft was never acceptable.

"He's obviously answered for that. I would suggest that it would have been brought up at pre-selection and brought up by the party when he was put forward as a candidate," Mr Choat said.

"I would have thought that would have been well and truly canvassed. Obviously he has learned his lesson and has been able to demonstrate that to the people who pre-selected him.

"If he pleaded guilty at least he owned up to the fact.

"But it is not something I would do or condone. That is not what this (politics) is all about. It should be about reaching out to people and saying, 'This is me and this is what I do'."



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