May 16, 2019 16:58:37

Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) staff have called police to a pre-polling booth in Canberra after an altercation between Liberal candidate Mina Zaki and a Labor volunteer.

Key points:

  • Liberal candidate Mina Zaki referred to a Labor volunteer as a “dog”
  • Incident occurred after tensions boiled over at a pre-poll booth
  • Police were called by Australian Electoral Commission staff

Officials for the AEC reported the incident to police after Ms Zaki, who is running in the seat of Canberra, told Labor Senate candidate Katy Gallagher to “put a leash on your dog”, referring to a volunteer who was campaigning outside a polling booth in Canberra’s inner-north.

Earlier Ms Zaki had confronted Ms Gallagher to complain about the volunteer’s tactics.

Before she left the pre-polling station Ms Zaki was recorded yelling at Ms Gallagher.

“Will you take some responsibility for once in your life and actually do something Katy,” she said, calling for the volunteer to be disciplined.

A voter in line at the polling station interjected, yelling at Ms Zaki to “grow up and leave Katy alone”.

About six witnesses who were present also spoke to police when they arrived.

A spokesman for the Canberra Liberals said volunteers for the party had been harassed for weeks during the campaign.

“We are disappointed that other parties have sought to denigrate and provoke our volunteers at pre-poll over a period of weeks,” the spokesman said.

“All we seek is that all volunteers treat each other with respect and courtesy.”

Ms Gallagher was a Labor frontbencher before she was disqualified from Parliament last year over her dual UK citizenship, and is looking to re-enter the Senate.

She said tensions had been running high between the parties all day.

“We don’t usually have candidates screaming at people, especially while voters are present,” she said.

“The AEC saw the need to call the police and it was responded to appropriately.

“I think there’d been an issue simmering away throughout the day about volunteer behaviour.

“Mina was yelling at me about it and obviously that was confronting to the public.”

Ms Gallagher said she had counselled the Labor volunteer to keep away from Ms Zaki for the rest of the campaign.

“I’ve said it’s probably best not to speak to that candidate again … [the Labor volunteer] was certainly attacked personally throughout the outburst,” Ms Gallagher said.

A police spokesman said while officers attended, “no offences were identified, and at this time no further police action is anticipated”.








First posted

May 16, 2019 15:50:49

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