Thursday , April 25 2024

Murder suspect loses re-election bid in Australia


QUEENSLAND: An Australian politician accused of murdering his stepfather has failed in his attempt to be re-elected as a city councilor, officials say.

Ryan Bayldon-Lumsden faced heavy criticism for standing given the serious criminal charge against him.

Ahead of the vote, he had defiantly told media that it was for the public to decide if he served again.

Despite his unusual situation he was still the first choice for almost 22% of voters, the official count shows but he only came third in a ballot for the City of Gold Coast council seat that he had won convincingly four years earlier.

The 31-year-old is charged with allegedly killing his stepfather, Robert Lumsden, at the family’s home in August last year.

Further details about the proceedings can’t be reported for legal reasons, but his lawyers have indicated at a pre-trial hearing that he will plead not guilty.

He is believed to be the only Australian in recent history to have been fighting a political battle and a murder charge simultaneously.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland on Tuesday said Joe Wilkinson had been elected.

Bayldon-Lumsden was able to able to campaign in person ahead of the election because he is on bail, albeit while wearing a GPS electronic ankle bracelet.

After being charged, Bayldon-Lumsden was suspended from the council, while still receiving his full salary of A$160,000 (£82,700; $105,000) a year.

This meant that almost 50,000 people in his area have not had a voice on the local council.

“It’s really important that we have a councilor who can represent the community at council when he was knocked out, that was already a win,” runner-up Jenna Schroeder told media on Tuesday.

Bayldon-Lumsden previously told media he had no regrets about taking part in the election, despite the decision being labelled as “bizarre”, “selfish” and “entitled”.

“I believe democracy is the most important thing, and voters always get it right,” he said.

Deciding to stand for public office again has been called “selfish”, “strange”, “entitled” and “unbelievable” but when approached by media outside the polling booth at Runaway Bay, Bayldon-Lumsden is defiant.

“I believe democracy is the most important thing, and voters always get it right,” he says.

With Australia’s compulsory voting system, turnout will be high. His five rival candidates have banded together in a policy that one summed up as “anyone but Ryan”.

These elections feature preferential voting, allowing constituents to rank their favored candidates in order.

“We’re encouraging people to put Ryan last,” says Jenna Schroeder, who like all candidates in the Division Seven district, is running as an independent.

Although the killing was huge news locally, she estimates up to 40% of voters do not realize the implications politically. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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