Rhoades says he has no links with Labor

By CRAIG McTEAR

KEITH Rhoades says he's 'no Labor stooge', following newspaper claims Labor's practice of recruiting and supporting independents appears to be increasingly common.

The Coffs Harbour mayor and independent candidate for Coffs Harbour said he was 'dinky-di, straight-down-the-middle Keith Rhoades'.

"I'm an independent," he said.

Cr Rhoades said no money had come to him from Labor, and he had also not received non-financial support from the party.

He accused The Nationals of running a scare campaign against independents.

"They are fighting for their political survival. That's why they go to these depths," he said.

Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald said Labor had bolstered independents in a number of Coalition heartland seats to increase the likelihood of the ALP forming government in the event of a hung parliament.

Cr Rhoades said if elected, he would support good legislation, no matter which political party put it before parliament.

Labor candidate for Coffs Harbour, David Kennedy, said rumours about Labor supporting independents had surfaced before.

"I think it's an Opposition tactic to get votes away from independents by painting them as Labor stooges," Mr Kennedy said.

He said nine State Government ministers had visited Coffs Harbour in recent months and they supported his campaign.

"I reject any suggestion that Labor is supporting independents over (Labor) endorsed candidates. It is certainly not the case in Coffs Harbour."

The Nationals member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said independents 'keep Labor in power', and what was needed was a change of government.

"Independents support a Labor Government," Mr Fraser said. He also accused independents of trying to recruit people to run as independents in National Party seats.



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