Newcastle MP's father-in-law runs for rival party in council election

BALLOT: Candidates from various parties at Wednesday night's ballot draw on Hunter Street. Independent Rob Holding, not pictured, won the top spot in the mayoral ballot. PICTURE: Marina Neil

BALLOT: Candidates from various parties at Wednesday night's ballot draw on Hunter Street. Independent Rob Holding, not pictured, won the top spot in the mayoral ballot. PICTURE: Marina Neil

THE father-in-law of Newcastle Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp has nominated to run for the Liberal Party at next month’s local government election.

Sunday dinner at the Crakanthorp household is set to be a tense affair in the next few weeks after Jo Manitta, a long-time member of the Newcastle branch of the Liberal Party who often hands out for the party at elections, decided to make his political differences with his son-in-law public knowledge.

Nominated third on the Liberal Party ticket in Ward 1 – meaning it’s virtually impossible for him to be elected – Mr Manitta’s name was read out among the Liberal Party’s candidates at Wednesday night’s ballot draw.

Mr Manitta did not answer calls from the Newcastle Herald on Wednesday night, but he’s sent a public message that not everyone in the extended Crakanthorp family is a supporter of the state MP for Newcastle.

A retired builder and one-time developer with extensive land holdings across Newcastle, it’s not the first time Mr Manitta has created headaches for Mr Crakanthorp.

In 2014 the Newcastle Herald reported that then candidate’s in-laws owned an 8000-square-metre development site at Wickham which would likely need to be purchased by the NSW government if Labor's proposed Stewart Avenue bypass ever went ahead, creating a potential conflict of interest.

In a text message on Wednesday night Mr Crakanthorp said he would be campaigning for Labor in the council election. 

Referring to him as “Mr Manitta”, Mr Crakanthorp said his father-in-law was “his own person” and “makes his decisions”.

“Obviously his political ideology is diametrically opposed mine.” he said.

DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED: The father-in-law of Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp, Jo Manitta, will run for the Liberal Party at next month's council election. Mr Crakanthorp said Mr Manitta is "his own person". PICTURE: Marina Neil

DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED: The father-in-law of Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp, Jo Manitta, will run for the Liberal Party at next month's council election. Mr Crakanthorp said Mr Manitta is "his own person". PICTURE: Marina Neil

“I look forward to campaigning with local Labor candidates for a local Labor victory.”

The revelation that his former developer father-in-law is running for Newcastle City Council came just hours after Mr Crakanthorp, himself a former councillor, called on the government to ban developers from running for council.

In a notice before the parliament on Wednesday Mr Crakanthorp called for on the government “to adopt Labor's plans to restore integrity and legislate for campaign spending caps and banning developers from local government”.

Wednesday’s ballot draw saw Independent Rob Holding receive the number one position for the mayoral vote, while Kath Elliott’s Independents and the Greens received the top ballot spot in two wards each. Some candidates believe winning the top spot on a ballot order can help win the votes of the undecided, but Ms Elliott said she did not believe it would help her in Ward 2.

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