The battle for the seat of Goulburn in the New South Wales state election is getting spiteful. Pru Goward, the Liberal candidate, claims that reanimating a story about a driving offence is a dirty tricks campaign organised by her rivals.

After dinner on 16 February, Goward was pulled over for failing to stop at a stop sign. A breath test returned a reading, which lead to Goward being taken to the local police station for another test, which returned a reading of .02. Goward says the police were “slightly embarrassed” over the level of the reading and promptly showed her the front door.

A news report about the incident appeared in The Goulburn Post a week later but quickly sunk from view given the unspectacular nature of the story. But Crikey received a tip suggesting all sorts of impropriety which upon investigation proved completely false.

“I’m surprised that my opponents haven’t got better things to do with their time,” Goward told Crikey. “It’s clear to the electorate that they haven’t done their work and this is how they are trying to damage my campaign. This is why politics is in such disrepute.”

Goward is well placed to win the seat. Bookies have her at $1.05. Her nearest rival is Labor candidate Robert Parker, who according to one local source is a pleasant guy but has a low profile. Any other candidate is at $51.

Suggestions that the story was removed from the Goulburn Post website are also false. Editor Gerard Walsh claims that the newspaper was not pressured to remove the article. “No one’s had an approach from Pru,” Walsh told Crikey, before adding that the smear campaign theory is the most likely explanation.

Peter Fray

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