24 March 2024

Drink-driving charge unlikely to thwart Aurukun mayoral frontrunner

| Cape York Weekly

Aurukun mayoral frontrunner Barbara Bandicootcha is unlikely to be prevented from taking office if declared victorious, despite facing court on a mid-range drink-driving charge earlier this month. Photo: Cape York Weekly.

A drink-driving charge is unlikely to impact the candidate leading the race to be the next mayor of Aurukun from taking office.

Barbara Sue Bandicootcha appeared in Aurukun Magistrates Court earlier this month charged with driving a motor vehicle while over the middle alcohol limit.

The middle alcohol limit is one of at least 0.1 per cent or more blood alcohol, but under the high alcohol limit of 0.15 per cent.

The charge means Ms Bandicootcha was allegedly at least twice the legal limit allowed to operate a motor vehicle, however, her situation is complicated by the fact she was caught drink-driving in a community where alcohol is banned.

Aurukun is subject to the provisions of an alcohol management plan, which operate in 15 communities across Queensland and aim to reduce alcohol-related violence.

While Aurukun’s four new councillors – returning councillors Craig Koomeeta and Jayden Marrott, and Leona Yunkaporta and Eloise Yunkaporta – were declared by the Electoral Commission of Queensland last week, a final announcement about the mayoral position is yet to be made.

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Ms Bandicootcha currently leads the mayoral race with 43.7 per cent of the official first preference votes, with a large margin to fellow candidates Keri Tamwoy (34.35 per cent) and Dereck Walpo (21.95 per cent), both of whom are former Aurukun mayors.

The maximum penalty for driving over the middle alcohol limit is six months’ imprisonment, which would disqualify Ms Bandicootcha from taking office, however, the penalty would be “extremely unlikely unless a repeated offence”, according to a criminal lawyer Cape York Weekly spoke to.

Section 153 of the Local Government Act 2009 prescribes the convictions which disqualify a person from acting as a mayor or councillor, which include those relating to treason, electoral offences and serious integrity offences.

Drink-driving does not meet the criteria for a disqualification offence.

A spokesperson for the council said the organisation could not comment on the matter.

Ms Bandicootcha did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Cape York Weekly.

She is scheduled to reappear in Aurukun Magistrates Court on 11 April, 2024.

Barbara Bandicootcha leads former Aurukun mayors Keri Tamwoy and Dereck Walpo with 43.7 per cent of the official first preference votes after the 16 March local government elections. Photo: Supplied.

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