News State NT News Issues addressed in Blain by-election

Issues addressed in Blain by-election

The Labor candidate for Saturday's Blain by-election is listed in the electoral roll as living in a residence he only settled on Wednesday.
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On the Northern Territory electoral roll, Labor’s candidate for the Blain by-election is listed as living at a property in the electorate, but his purchase of the property was only finalised this week.

Police officer Geoff Bahnert lives at a Bellamack address in Palmerston, within the Blain electorate, according to the NT electoral roll, but real estate agents said the sale was only finalised on Wednesday.

Enrolments for today’s election closed on March 26, and under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, a person can only be enrolled to vote in a division if they have “a real place of living in the division”.

In order to enrol to vote, voters must have lived at their address for at least one month.

For Mr Bahnert to be eligible to vote in Blain, he would have had to have lived at the Bellamack address since February 27 at the latest.

But the property was listed for sale in the Saturday editions of the NT News on March 1, 8, and 15, and listed as being under contract on March 22, before the sale was settled on April 9.

“I think you’ll find (the by-election) caught everyone by surprise so I moved into the electorate from the time that the polls were called, so we’re ready to go, we’ve moved in,” Mr Bahnert said.

The April 12 election date was announced on March 8, which was still too late for Mr Bahnert to enrol as a Blain resident, according to the Act’s one-month residence stipulation.

A Labor Party spokesman would not respond when asked by AAP where in Blain Mr Bahnert had been living, or for how long.

AAP was not permitted to speak directly with Mr Bahnert; however, the spokesman said any allegation that Mr Bahnert had acted improperly was wrong, and said the ALP had consulted a barrister.

“He lives in the electorate and he is entitled to vote there,” he said.

The maximum penalty for making a false claim for enrolment is 12 months imprisonment.

Neither of Mr Bahnert’s two key rivals – the Country Liberals’ Nathan Barrett and independent Matthew Cranitch – are enrolled to vote in Blain.