Documents obtained by the Queanbeyan Age show Queanbeyan-Palerang mayor Tim Overall was once a member of the NSW Liberal Party despite claims he is apolitical.
Prior to the council election in September last year Tim Overall and his ticket campaigned on a strict platform opposing political parties in local government.
Cr Overall has confirmed that he was a member of the NSW Liberal Party in 2005 and 2006 but claims he had no recall over it until presented with the document.
Documents obtained by the Queanbeyan Age under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 show Cr Overall was a member of the party from May 2005 to December 2006.
The documents are from an election for the executive committee of the NSW Local Government Association where Cr Overall declared his membership on the nomination form.
He was first elected to Queanbeyan City Council as an independent in 2004 and joined the Liberal Party less than a year later.
In August last year Cr Overall sat down with the Queanbeyan Age for an interview prior to the election. At the time he reiterated his stance that political parties did not belong at local government level.
“It’s unfortunate that party politics come into local government because ideologies come into play,” Cr Overall said.
“I have a very strong philosophical view that party politics and political parties should be a matter for state and federal parliaments, not local government.
“I have never been a member of a political party.”
When questioned about why he had neglected to mention his party membership Cr Overall said he “had absolutely no recall” of his “short term membership” until reminded by the Queanbeyan Age.
Cr Overall said he was approached at the time to consider running for NSW Parliament and to explore the possibility further he was required to join the Liberal Party.
“I did this to get an understanding of what was involved and how political organisations operated at that level,” he said.
“Having determined it was decidedly not for me, I resigned membership almost immediately.
“To a large extent, that foray coloured my view and I continue to be philosophically opposed to party politics in local government.
“My focus has been to serve and act in the best interests of the Queanbeyan community and more recently in the best interests of the communities of Queanbeyan-Palerang, free of party politics.”
A spokesman for the Office of Local Government confirmed candidates choosing to run for election to council must disclose any political party membership current at the time of nomination. There is no requirement to disclose past political party memberships.
Prior to the 2008 council election Cr Overall took legal action against the producers of pamphlets that were circulated around Queanbeyan suggesting he had political party ties.
At the time he said these pamphlets contained “false, misleading and potentially defamatory comments” and he lodged a legal complaint with the NSW Electoral Commission.
Cr Overall went on the record at the time saying he had no idea why there had been suggestions regarding connections to the Liberal Party.
It was suggested that the connections were based on Cr Overall’s friendship with former deputy leader of the NSW Liberal Party in the Legislative Council Matthew Mason-Cox.
The debate over political parties in local government heated up prior to last year’s election.
The Liberals ran their first ever endorsed ticket and secured a spot on council along with the Labor Party and Greens.
Three candidates in Kenrick Winchester (Labor), Walter Raynolds (Liberal) and Phil Shoemark (Nationals) ran as independents despite being party members.
It was in this context Cr Overall continued to oppose political parties and expressed his desire that councils should be free of party endorsed candidates.