A “dirt letter” sent by the Liberal Party accusing Tammy Atkins of being an “evil person” has been described as nasty and disappointing by the independent candidate for Ovens Valley.
The two-page letter, on Liberal Party stationery, has been signed by Ovens Valley state electorate conference chairman Helen Senior.
“Tammy is disloyal, dishonest, not to be trusted and only has a vision for herself, not caring who she walks over to gain what she wants,” it states. “Heaven help us from this evil person.”
A copy of the letter was slipped under the door of Ms Atkins’ Wangaratta office and she said it was important to call out what she described as defamatory comments.
“This is why people aren’t members of political parties, aren’t joining political parties, are looking for alternatives – because of this type of behaviour,” she said.
“This is exactly why organisations like Voices for Indi have grown and got traction because of that complete disconnect between politics and those of us in community who are just trying to make things happen.
“This is a really great example of why what’s happening in the North East is happening.”
Mrs Senior’s letter was critical of Ms Atkins for her political history which has included working for former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella, being a members of the Nationals and standing on Wangaratta Council.
“Like everyone, I’m a product of my upbringing and my life experiences and if anything, this nasty dirt sheet just underlined why I’m not a member of a political party,” Ms Atkins said.
“If we as a community don’t call out this type of behaviour, the people are never going to change, the parties and the politicians are never going to change how they approach local politics.
“We’re not going to improve our standard of politics or get through this muckraking where we actually just talk about policy and ideas and things that really matter, if we let debate stay in the gutter.”
Ms Atkins said she does not believe she has ever met Mrs Senior.
The Border Mail attempted to contact Ms Senior, but Liberal Ovens Valley SEC secretary Dot Fox, whose name also appears at the top of the letter, confirmed the rest of the group had nothing to do with the “bullying” comments.
“It was absolutely from (Mrs Senior) only,” she said.
“I knew nothing (of the letter). She never confirmed with me or our treasurer or the vice president.
“We knew nothing about it until it hit our emails.”
Mrs Fox said she was a long-term supporter of the Liberals and the Mirabellas and had never seen behaviour like this.
Ms Atkins said she had been waiting for the nastiness to start and was almost relieved it had come up now.
“My time as a councillor has probably prepared me to continue to not be surprised, but be disappointed when I see things like this,” she said.
“Maybe this will set the tone for the rest of election and we’ll see some niceness in politics.”
The letter called on voters to support Mr McCurdy and Liberal candidates Bill Tilley in Benambra and Cheryl Hammer in Shepparton.
But Mr McCurdy criticised the letter, saying it was better to “go the ball, not the man”.
“I absolutely do not support any negative, personal attacks on people, it is unnecessary. This is a tough enough job as it is,” he said.”
“It’s about who can deliver the best for community and the people, it’s not about if someone wants to bring up some mud about somebody.
“I know all about that and it’s no fun at all.”
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