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Liberal Party suspends Newcastle council lord mayoral candidate David Compton

OUT OF THE RACE: The Liberal Party’s lord mayoral candidate David Compton.LORD mayoral candidate David Compton is out of the Newcastle council election race after he was suspended by the Liberal Party on Friday night.

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In a major blow to the party ahead of the September 9 poll, the Liberal Party said it had disendorsed all four of itsward three candidates.

Mr Compton and two of his fellow ward three candidates were also suspended from the party after it said “irregularities” were discovered in the completion of nomination forms.

The Herald understands those other candidates are Danielle Brown and Colleen Hodges.

A party spokesman said there were no issues surrounding the nomination ofthe number three candidate, Don Harris.

The party also said it would cease campaigning in ward three afterthe state executive met in Sydney to discuss the Newcastle campaign.

In a statement released on Friday night, the party said it “expects every candidate it endorses to comply with all requirements set down by the NSW Electoral Commission and relevant legislation”.

“The residents of Newcastle , including in ward three, rightly expect the highest standards from candidates who seek to represent them.

“As such, the Liberal Party will now cease all campaigning in ward three and for the mayoralty.”

It followed speculation about whether Mr Compton, a Newcastle councillor, would continue in the campaign after he missed a council meeting on Tuesday and a forum for candidates on Wednesday.

The Herald understands other Liberal Party candidates had been unable to contact Mr Compton for several days in the lead-up to Friday night’s meeting.

A senior Liberal Party source said “it had to happen” and was “overdue”.

The Herald understands that the Liberal Party will consider directing preferences to Newcastle Independents’ Kath Elliott.

A party spokesman would not comment on a possiblepreference deal. Though Mr Compton is out of the race, his name will appear on the ballot paper.

Meanwhile, thousands will begin voting on Monday as the prepollfor the state’s council elections begins.NSW electoral commissioner John Schmidt said those who wanted to submit a postal vote should apply quickly.

“Whileapplications close at 5pm on Monday, September 4,people in remote locations with limitedmail services need to act quickly in order to receive and return their ballot papers in time,” he said.

More than 111,000 NSW voters will seek to vote by post.“Everyone who has requested a postal vote should receive their postal vote pack in the next few days,” Mr Schmidt said.

The September 9 poll covers councils at Port Stephens, Maitland, Newcastle, Central Coast, MidCoast and Dungog. Cessnock, Singleton, Upper Hunter andLake Macquarie are among other areas that will not need to head to a polling place due to shuffling their chambers more recently.

The Newcastle Institute will host a forum at Wests City on Thursday from 6pm for the city’s mayoral candidates.

Anyone who is unable to vote at a polling place on election day should apply for a postal vote, or attend a prepoll centre. There is no absent voting at local council elections. For more information on prepoll and postal voting head tothe votensw.info website.