Independent candidate has faced courts on numerous charges
A GOLD Coast independent candidate whose preferences could determine the outcome of the city's most marginal seat in a knife-edge State election has faced the courts on numerous charges, including impersonating a police officer.
Potential political kingmaker Ron Nightingale, a 59-year-old self-employed courier driver, pleaded guilty in the Caboolture Magistrates Court to a charge of "assume designation or description of a police officer".
Mr Nightingale was fined $2000 for the offence in June 2006 and released under the supervision of a Corrective Services officer for 18 months on the condition he "submit to such medical or psychiatric or psychological treatment" as required by his supervisor.
In 2014, he also had a restraining order placed against him after a long-running dispute with a man and, in a separate incident, was given a one-year good behaviour bond after being found guilty of using a carriage service to menace or harass a woman. The magistrate did not record a conviction.
This month, Mr Nightingale wrote on Facebook that "it's time to stop domestic violence now" after the alleged murder of a Gold Coast woman.
Mr Nightingale yesterday agreed to speak about his past and said he was the victim of a smear campaign because he would influence the outcome in a marginal Gold Coast seat.
"The individuals behind this have been trying to destroy me for a number of years," he said.
"Yes, that was in my past, I'm not going to deny it," he said.
"But it is a long time ago in my past, an awful long time ago.
"Now basically the way I read the Act, you have to have convictions that affect the Electoral Act, and they have to be recent, within the last five years.
"At the time I pleaded guilty to something, that was the legal advice I had. It resulted in a fine. There is no jail time behind me.
"I don't think that any of what happened to me a long time ago reflects on this campaign."
He said the offence of assuming a police officer was based on the word of a woman when he had acted as mediator between her and her husband.
"She misunderstood what I said and reported it to the police. I simply pleaded guilty to the fact if she believed it, she must have believed it," he said.
"What I said was I was an ex-military police officer, actually. She misunderstood the fact that I served in the military services, for six months of my time I served with the military police which is the same case with all reservists. You go through different units.
"If it had been a serious matter I would have been jailed."
A Gold Coast Bulletin Galaxy Research poll this month showed any preferences of Mr Nightingale and another independent candidate, construction boss Robert Buegge, are the key to the crucial marginal seat of Bonney.
The poll showed an even split on a two-party preferred basis between Labor and the LNP in the seat.
Of the 91 per cent of respondents who said they had made up their minds, 39 per cent of the electorate would vote for Labor, 45 per cent for the LNP and 9 per cent for the Greens. There was 7 per cent support for the independents, making them critical to the outcome.
Mr Nightingale had appointed himself campaign manager and media contact for One Nation Gold Coast candidates until he decided to run in Bonney as an independent.
The seat favours the LNP by a 2.2 per cent margin.
After the newspaper reported on Mr Nightingale's political campaigning, the Bulletin was contacted by people aware of the candidate's past.
Court searches confirmed the Caboolture case and also showed that in August 2011, Mr Nightingale faced the Southport Magistrates Court for drink driving.
He was fined $800 and disqualified from driving for six months, but the court allowed him to keep his licence for work purposes. A conviction was recorded.
On August 18, 2014, he faced court on two breaches of bail.
He was given a one-year good behaviour bond, to pay $500 if he defaulted, but no conviction was recorded.
Under the Electoral Act 1992, a person may nominate as a candidate if they are an adult living in Queensland, enrolled on the electoral roll and "not a disqualified person".
A person is considered disqualified if they are a bankrupt and sentenced to jail for more than a year within two years of nominating. They can be disqualified if convicted of a "disqualifying offence" within 10 years of nominating.