Nominations for the NSW local government elections closed at midday today with a major shock for voters in the Tweed Shire Council on the border between NSW and Queensland.

Former mayor Warren Polglase who was dismissed from office in May 2005 is standing again as head of a team of pro-development candidates.

Polglase, a staunch National, made headlines at the last council election four years ago when he and associates were supported by a phantom outfit called Tweed Directions which had a $600,000 war chest provided by developers.

A subsequent government inquiry, headed by Professor Maurice Daly, found that the developers had hijacked the election and all the councillors, including Polgase, were sacked and replaced by three administrators.

None of the sacked councillors were ever charged with any offence; nor were they disbarred from standing again.

Today’s front page of the Tweed Daily News carried a color photo of Polglase and the extraordinary headline: “Sacked mayor back in mix — Warren Polglase wants to curb development on new council.”

The idea that Polglase, if elected, will “curb development” has the whole of the shire rolling around laughing.

Of all the council election contests across NSW on September 13, the Tweed Shire will be a flashpoint because it will be a bitter struggle between the development lobby and the greens/independents. (In keeping with its current electoral low profile, Labor isn’t standing).

Tweed Shire, just over the border from the Gold Coast, has become the hunting ground for developers who want to make a quick killing from coastal and hinterland real estate.

Pressure is constantly being exerted to free up land for development and to rezone existing rural or farming locations for residential and commercial development. Such is the value of pristine Tweed Valley land, that literally billions of dollars are at stake.

Meanwhile, South Sydney star footballer Craig Wing is standing for the No Parking Meters Party at the forthcoming election and giving his critical preferences to veteran Randwick Council independent, Charles Matthews. In 1995 the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) made an adverse finding against Matthews following an investigation of the council’s planning practices but he was never prosecuted and he eventually cleared his name.

Wing, a popular league legend, may use next month’s council elections to prepare for a run at the state seat of Maroubra in 2011. The seat is currently held by notorious right-winger Michael Daley who took the electorate when Bob Carr retired as premier in 2005 to join Macquarie Bank.

Peter Fray

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