National Party letter to members sparks anger from Dickerson and Lawrence

The Dubbo branch of the National Party has accused independent Mathew Dickerson of spending more than half a million dollars on his election campaign. 

A letter sent out to National Party members asking them to donate to Dugald Saunders' campaign does not offer any evidence of Mr Dickerson’s actual spending.

The letter sent out by Mr Saunders' campaign director Peter Bartley says the National Party candidate is in a "David and Goliath battle” and needs support against “a ragtag collection of miscreants”.

A miscreant is someone who breaks the law, but the letter does not provide any factual evidence of the opposing candidates or third party lobby group Anyone But Nats breaking the law.

Independent Candidate for Dubbo Mathew Dickerson said the allegation in the letter regarding his spending is incorrect.

“I am disappointed that the National Party does not understand the community has moved past attack politics,” he said.

“This letter, sent to Nats members, accuses me of breaking the law with expenditure almost three times the legal cap. It is hypocritical in accusing me of trying to buy the seat on one hand while asking for a donation on the other hand so the Nats can attempt to buy the seat. 

“It accuses all four opposing candidates of being lawbreakers and with the terrible drought that we are currently in, and with the majority of Nat Members being on the land, it seems incredibly insensitive to be asking for money now. The Nats seem to be out of touch with their members.

“I am not sure what makes my campaign bizarre. Maybe it is bizarre to a party that I am prepared to back myself with my money without asking for any donations because I believe I can make a difference.”

Country Labor candidate for Dubbo Stephen Lawrence also expressed disappointment with the letter.

"I've always had a good relationship with my fellow lawyer Peter Bartley, so I was a bit surprised to see myself described as a "miscreant" by him, but I guess the Dubbo Nats are getting a bit desperate,” he said.

“Just like in 1999, they realise the old radio announcer trick isn't working that well for them". 

“I think the government needs to allocate the necessary resources to the electoral commission to make sure the investigation into Mathew’s spending is concluded before the election. 

“Voters who are considering Mathew shouldn't have to deal with the uncertainty of this hanging over his campaign.”

Letter is usual practice, says Peter Bartley

Dugald Saunders’ campaign director Peter Bartley said there is nothing unusual about the recent letter sent to members.

“It is usual practice in an election campaign for a letter to be sent to Nationals members seeking a donation for the campaign,” he said.

“This time the wording was forthright and direct due to the unique challenges faced by the Nationals candidate.

“The letter reflected community concern about the level of spending in this election by the Independent candidate.

“This concern will only be allayed if the Independent fully discloses his business and electoral expenditure for the six month period leading up to the election.

“I call on him to do so.

“The letter also referred to the protest group called Anyone But Nats who, in my view, are behaving badly and being wrong and untruthful in their public statements.

“The term miscreants referred to the Anyone But Nats group, not the other candidates”.