Unexpected byelection looms for Georges River Council voters

A photo supplied to the Leader by Independent councillor Lou Konjarski during the Georges River Council election campaign.
A photo supplied to the Leader by Independent councillor Lou Konjarski during the Georges River Council election campaign.

The spectre of yet another potential byelection now looms for tens of thousands of Sydney voters after a legal challenge against the results of a September council election was mounted.

Fairfax Media can reveal legal arguments against three elections to the new Georges River Council were submitted to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Friday.

The action is being brought by resident Gregory Briscoe-Hough, whose past legal challenges have previously forced a byelection and resulted in other complaints being upheld by courts.

Mr Briscoe-Hough declined to comment but is believed to be arguing there were irregularities in the poll's staging and also on information provided by candidates.

Independent councillor Lou Konjarski declared he was not a member of any political party on a "candidate information statement" that was part of his statutory declaration and nomination form.

Yet documents obtained by Fairfax Media show he is a paid-up member of the Liberals.

"That was just an error: 100 per cent," Cr Konjarski said, adding that he had put in a replacement form.

But when later asked why no replacement was on the Electoral Commission's website, as with other candidates who had submitted amendments, Cr Konjarski said: "As soon as I get that information to you I'll get back to you." He later declined to comment.

Fairfax Media understands that Mr Briscoe-Hough's case will rest on whether that and other alleged irregularities would have changed the election's outcome.

Candidate information sheets must be made available to voters at polling booths.

Cr Konjarski was elected above the next-placed ALP candidate by roughly 300 votes.

Controversial former Hurstville mayor Con Hindi also ticked "no" on the same form on a section asking if he was a property developer, but did not respond to questions about his form.

The legal challenge means former mayor of Hurstville and current Georges River councillor, Con Hindi, will face a court on two matters.  Picture: Simon Alekna

The legal challenge means former mayor of Hurstville and current Georges River councillor, Con Hindi, will face a court on two matters. Picture: Simon Alekna

Last year, Fairfax Media revealed Mr Hindi repeatedly failed to comply with orders from his own council staff to remediate his own asbestos-contaminated property development site.

Mr Hindi was subsequently suspended for two months from the council after moving to sack the council's general manager who was outlining options to sanction him for the breach, but he successfully appealed to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The commission declined to comment about the challenge to the Mortdale Ward election which, if successful, would potentially send three elected candidates, including the ALP's Warren Tegg, and 20,000 voters back to the polls.

The challenge means Cr Hindi is involved in two concurrent court cases relating to his election weeks after being sworn in. He was served with a court attendance notice for assault for November relating to an incident on the campaign trail that allegedly left another campaigner with an injured hand.

State law narrowly defines developers as those who "regularly" submit development applications.

In 2008, Mr Briscoe-Hough brought legal action against Hurstville councillor Helen Filipopoulos, arguing she was not registered to stand in the area. She resigned her position, forcing a by-election.

Mr Briscoe-Hough has previously stood for the Family First and Save our Suburbs parties.

A court has previously agreed another of Mr Briscoe-Hough's legal complaints about the conduct of a council election but stopped short of ordering a by-election.

The case is next in court on November 28.