FORMER federal Liberal MP Bob Baldwin has denied he will run for Newcastle council at September’s elections, despite being framed as a candidate in a phone poll.
The poll this month by the Australian Hotels Association asked Newcastle voters their opinions of Mr Baldwin, the former member for Paterson who it described as an “independent candidate”, and of former lord mayor Jeff McCloy and the Labor incumbent Nuatali Nelmes.
In a twist that might have taken the polling company ASK Research Australia aback, one of the people it polled was Cr Nelmes.
“What has Bob Baldwin achieved locally?” was one question, along with whether Mr Baldwin, Mr McCloy and Cr Nelmes are “very friendly”, “friendly” or “not friendly”.
But the former Howard government frontbencher said he wasn’t interested.
“I was approached to run, but I think my day in politics is done and it’s time to let someone else take the mantle,” Mr Balwin said.
Asked who approached him, Mr Baldwin said “that’s my business”. But he said Newcastle needed “strong people” to run, and criticised Cr Nelmes for presenting Real Housewives of Melbourne star Jackie Gillies with the key to the city last week.
“I can’t believe how this current mayor takes this city for granted,” Mr Baldwin said.
“You can’t have a situation where the mayor goes through... using the office as her personal plaything.”
The 15-minute poll also asked voters about Newcastle’s 1.30am lockout laws and other restrictions on venues and alcohol, and whether they should be reviewed.
Cr Nelmes said the inner city had been made safer by the lockouts, with a shift towards “small bars, more dining and family-friendly” venues.
“I was very surprised to get a call from a professional pollster asking my advice on the range of Liberal independents who may be running for mayor in less than two months time,” Cr Nelmes said.
“You know someone’s made a mistake when you're polling the Labor lord mayor for advice on a field of possible Liberal independent candidates. Regardless of polls or focus groups, I’m committed to ensuring Newcastle has a safe and vibrant nightlife.”
Mr McCloy hasn’t said whether he will run for lord mayor at this election.
The NSW branch of the Australian Hotels Association wouldn’t answer questions about its poll.
“Like many other organisations the AHA undertakes research on a range of issues across NSW from time to time,” a spokesman said.