Port Stephens Labor candidate Kate Washington stopped distributing a campaign brochure after a complaint from a Tea Gardens resident who appeared on it without her prior knowledge.
The photo ran as part of a story in the Myall Coast News where Ms Washington was photographed with the preschool after announcing $60,000 worth of funding (election promise) towards crucial improvements for the Tea Gardens Hawks Nest Preschool.
The announcement being, if elected, her party would provide the money which would enable a second stage of extensions for the preschool to go ahead.
Off the back of a great initiative and election promise has come somewhat of a potential campaign setback.
Ms Washington used this photo within an election promotional flyer and started distributing it throughout the area.
Anita Howarth, who was photographed with her daughter at the Tea Gardens Hawks Nest preschool for the story, said she had no idea the photo would then be used for a political campaign and particularly did not endorse the words accompanying her photograph on the flyer.
On Ms Washington’s brochure, the caption under the photo reads, “Kate is someone we can count on at a time when our community has been let down by local politicians. Kate will always put the interests of our community ahead of developers. We need someone like Kate who will stand up for us.”
Ms Washington said Mrs Howarth, gave “verbal” permission for the photo to be used and that the quote was not attributed to Mrs Howarth but was a “generic statement”.
Ms Howarth said she has been, ‘‘distressed and upset with the repercussions from the flyer’’.
Great Lakes deputy mayor Len Roberts said that the brochure raised three serious issues.
“Number one, there was no permission given by the woman and child in the photograph to be used for political purposes.”
“Number two, the Great Lakes Council did not give permission for the pre school to be used in the political brochure and number three, the words underneath the photo appear to be attributed to Mrs Howarth,” he said.
Mr Roberts said the wording was also defamatory, implying that he and fellow Tea Gardens councillor Carol McCaskie (“local politicians”) were not being responsible for child care in the area.
“Overall our main issue is the abuse of Anita, who is a lovely lady,” said Mr Roberts.
Ms Washington said she did not mean any harm and only meant to help the pre school.
“The brochure included a number of different photographs of people. The text underneath each photograph used in the brochure consisted of generic statements and not intended in any way to be attributable to any of the people depicted,” said Ms Washington.
“I understand that it could have been perceived otherwise and I regret this unintended misunderstanding.
“I have withdrawn from distribution all further copies of the brochure in my control.“
Ms Washington went on to tell Myall Coast News, “The reference to ‘local politicians’ in the brochure, was not a reference to any Great Lakes Councillors.
“I am a candidate in the upcoming State election and the reference was to State politicians,” she said.