Anti-East West Link councillor’s ties to Liberal Party questioned

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The Age: Anti-East West Link councillor’s ties to Liberal Party questioned, September 15, 2014, City Editor, The Age

Cr Cam Nation (right) with Roads Minister Terry Mulder.

An inner-city councillor who ran as a Liberal Party candidate has helped set up a new micro-party opposing the East West Link.

And opponents of the freeway plan have questioned whether the new political party has been set up to funnel votes back to Coalition candidates.

Cam Nation is a Moonee Valley councillor who unsuccessfully sought preselection for the state seat of Essendon this year.

He also ran as the Liberal Party candidate in the state seat of Footscray in 2006, and won preselection for the federal seat of Gorton in 2007 but pulled out midway through.

While on the council, Cr Nation has not been a vocal opponent of the $6 billion to $8 billion road the Napthine government wants built to link the Eastern Freeway in Clifton Hill to CityLink in Flemington.

But Cr Nation has now helped set up the No East West Link party, which was advertised by the Victorian Electoral Commission in newspapers on Monday.

The new party’s registered officer is Nicholas McArthur, secretary of North-West Aquatic, a swim program where Cr Nation is president.

On North-West Aquatic’s website is a picture of Cr Nation with Roads Minister Terry Mulder, who has regularly promoted the benefits of the East West Link.

The party is yet to say how its preferences will be distributed at November’s state election.

Cr Nation said on Monday night that, under “a best-case scenario”, the party would get “a couple of people into the Parliament [to] enable us to maybe get the balance of power”.

Everything the party had distributed indicated “we would preference the Greens first, then Labor, then the Liberal Party”, he said.

Cr Nation said it was not true that the party was just a preference machine for the Liberal Party. “I’ve had a few people bandying around that it’s a puppet party. It’s just not true.”

He said his preselection interview to run for Essendon for the Liberal Party had gone badly because of his opposition to the road.

“When you stand up in front of the big wigs of the party and say you oppose the East West Link – well, it didn’t go down very well at all.”

Last month he said he had withdrawn his Liberal Party membership.

Danae Bosler, a campaign manager for Public Transport Not Traffic, a group campaigning against the East West Link, said she approached Cr Nation last month when she came across his plan to establish a No East West Link party. He had told her his work was “commercial-in-confidence”.

Ms Bosler said she had been surprised the group was not keen to garner publicity or at least communicate with other groups opposed to the project.

“I’d be disappointed if these guys were trying to misdirect votes,” Ms Bosler said.

The Public Transport Users Association has also tracked the party since it began seeking 500 signatures to help secure it political party status. President Tony Morton said “the proof of the pudding will be in their how-to-vote cards”.

The Victorian Electoral Commission has had 12 new parties apply to register this year. The Palmer United Party, Voluntary Euthanasia Party, and People Power Victoria – No Smart Meters have succeeded. No East West Link is among nine parties awaiting final approval.

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