One of Ballarat's three independent councillors has told The Courier he joined the Liberal Party last year - and said he intends to stand for re-election.
Cr Grant Tillett, who is standing again in the North Ward, is one of the municipality's most outspoken elected representatives.
On Wednesday this week, The Courier asked him directly if he was a member of the Liberal Party. At that point he had not confirmed his nomination.
Cr Tillett said: "Am I a member? I have paid my dues. I don't go to anything. But I am a member."
Asked when he joined, he said: "Maybe a year ago."
How I vote is how I vote - I don't see just being a member of a club is anything lacking in transparencyCr Grant Tillett
The Courier asked if he thought he should have declared his affiliation when he joined, but he said he did not believe it necessary.
"What have I got to be transparent about if I haven't nominated?
"How I vote is how I vote - I don't see just being a member of a club is anything lacking in transparency."
It means there have been four Liberal Party members sitting on council since Cr Tillett joined the party - twice the number of any other party group. The Labor Party have two councillors, the Greens have one, while Crs Mark Harris and Jim Rinaldi do not belong to a political party.
Cr Tillett told The Courier he voted Labor at the last state election (the Wendouree electorate, where Cr Tillett lives, was contested for the Liberal Party by current councillor Amy Johnson).
"I place absolutely no store in membership, I am not an active member," he continued. "I don't go to meetings."
"Nobody would be surprised for me to say I am traditionally Liberal."
On Friday, he released a statement declaring his intention to nominate for the council elections.
His public announcement also included mention of his Liberal Party membership - but his declaration was much more critical of the party than his initial response.
IN OTHER NEWS
Declaring himself a natural supporter of the National Party, he wrote: "The Nationals ... unfortunately is not represented in Ballarat so it does not leave me much option when it comes to who to support at vote time so by default about a year ago I did pay a membership to the Liberal party attended one meeting and was so disenchanted I have never been back. Lesson learned."
He also said there was no place for political endorsements in local politics. Both the Victorian Greens and the Labor Party are officially endorsing candidates at this year's local elections.
The Greens have endorsed candidates since at least 2008, while the Labor Party did so for the first time this year.
The Liberal Party does not officially support candidates nor allows them to use the party logo or cite official party officer-bearer positions in their campaigns.
"There is no place for party politics and 'tied affiliations' or 'official endorsements'," Cr Tillett wrote. "My strong view is such connections are not in the best interests of communities."
Cr TillettI, who is 83, was a careful council watcher before he stood for election in 2016. He was a vocal campaigner against the relocation of the saleyards to Miners Rest.
FURTHER COUNCIL ELECTION COVERAGE
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