The Liberal Party has accused Tasmania’s new Opposition Leader Rebecca White of electoral bribery, after she promised a shadow portfolio to an undecided candidate.
The claim has been met with laughter by Ms White, but Liberal Party HQ is referring the matter to the Tasmanian Electoral Commission (TEC).
The resignation of Labor stalwart Bryan Green from Parliament is forcing a recount for the north-west seat of Braddon, which will be held next month.
The TEC is advertising this week for candidates who were not elected in 2014 to nominate to contest the recount.
Mr Green’s votes will be redistributed, and polling experts have named Labor candidates Shane Broad and Brenton Best as the frontrunners.
Ms White said Mr Broad was her preferred candidate, and told ABC Radio Hobart he would take on the primary industries shadow portfolio if he was elected.
“At this stage we don’t know who may be coming in for Braddon, my hope is that it will be Shane Broad,” Ms White said.
“If he does, I would give him [primary industries] portfolio, because his experience as a university lecturer is in agriculture.”
Liberal Party director Sam McQuestin has written to Electoral Commissioner Andrew Hawkey accusing her of foul play.
“I would consider Ms White’s comments today that she has offered Mr Broad a prominent role in Labor’s shadow cabinet to constitute an attempt to influence a person’s election conduct as defined in section 187 of the Electoral Act 2004,” he wrote.
“I ask that you investigate if a breach of the Act has been committed by Ms White.”
Under the electoral act, a breach can carry a fine of up to $15,000 and two years’ jail.
In a statement on Facebook, Mr McQuestin said: “As the alternative premier for Tasmania, Ms White’s inexperience is no excuse for any breach of the Electoral Act.”
Ms White hit back at the accusation, saying it “defies commonsense”.
“Well I think it’s quite clear for anyone who understands Shane’s credentials that he’s very qualified in the agriculture space,” Ms White said.
“For anyone to suggest it’s somehow bribing him — I think that would defy common sense.
“If Sam McQuestin has nothing better to do with his time then the Liberals are in an awful lot of trouble.”
Neither Mr Broad nor Mr Best have confirmed that they will contest the recount.