Labor’s Porter rival ‘vindicated’ after council bullying claims dismissed Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content

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By Hamish Hastie

Labor’s candidate for the prized West Australian seat of Pearce, Tracey Roberts, says she has been the target of political mudslinging after bullying claims threatened to derail her election campaign.

City of Wanneroo mayor and Pearce candidate Tracey Roberts

City of Wanneroo mayor and Pearce candidate Tracey Roberts

Two bullying claims were made against her as Perth’s northern suburbs mayor for the City of Wanneroo by fellow councillors, which were dismissed at a confidential meeting on Tuesday night.

The councillors claimed that Ms Roberts, the political opponent of embattled WA Liberal MP Christian Porter, bullied them at a council budget meeting in June – before she was formally announced as the candidate, but after her name had been publicly raised as a contender.

The city reportedly hired a private investigating firm to assess the complaints and a report was handed to the council last night clearing her of any bullying. The report was accepted by the council, nine votes to six.

Ms Roberts, who is also the vice president of the Australian Local Government Association, said she felt vindicated by the decision.

“I’m pleased that they’ve been dismissed, and they’ve been dismissed because I’m not a bully. I abhor bullies and I haven’t done anything wrong,” she said.

“It’s just not my style at all – far, far from it – and that’s why the majority of elected members dismissed the complaint.”

Ms Roberts said nobody at the meeting raised issues with her conduct at the time, so she was shocked to have received the complaint.

She said the investigation was meant to be confidential but details of it had been leaked to media as part of an effort to hurt her chances at the upcoming federal election.

“I’ve had an unblemished record since been elected in 2003,” she said.

“As soon as word got around the community that I’ve been considering running for the seat appears then a bullying complaint comes in.”

Pearce is a key seat for Labor in WA alongside Hasluck, held by Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt, and Swan, held by Steve Irons.

Ms Roberts was not a Labor member ahead of her preselection but was handpicked by the party because of her existing high profile in the electorate, which encompasses the City of Wanneroo.

Mr Porter has held the seat since 2013 with increasing margins. In 2019, he bucked national and state trends against the Coalition with a 3.9 per cent swing to win the seat by 7.5 per cent.

However, a boundary redraw in August saw Pearce lose most of its conservative farming population in the east for more of Perth’s northern Labor-voting mortgage belt.

Mr Porter’s position has been made more precarious after details of a rape allegation by a former school debating team colleague were splashed across headlines earlier this year. He has strenuously denied the allegations.

A Labor win would be the seat’s first in its 31-year history.

Ms Roberts has been Wanneroo mayor since 2011 and was first elected to council in 2003.

She said her name was thrown in the mix because she knew Labor leader Anthony Albanese from her work at the Australian Local Government Association.

“So obviously my name would have been well and truly in the mix there because I’m consistently advocating for facilities and infrastructure, so somebody might have said, ‘Well, let’s approach Tracy’ and they did,” she said.

The bullying complainants were approached for comment.

A City of Wanneroo spokeswoman said the city treated complaints seriously and engaged an independent administrator to assess them.

She said the administrator’s assessment of the complaints about Ms Roberts was complete and both had been dismissed but they were subject to revocation motions which would be presented at the next council meeting.