The Wagga byelection has taken a harrowing turn after one candidate received an “extremely serious” and “explicit” death threat.
Independent candidate Paul Funnell said he and his family were left shaken, following the untraceable phone call last week.
The unknown assailant allegedly made detailed and hostile threats against the local councillor, his wife and his family.
But the outspoken and self-described “no-nonsense” Wagga man said the act only strengthened his resolved, amid a competitive battle for the seat of Wagga Wagga.
“Questions have been asked about whether I have considered pulling out of my positions,” Cr Funnell said.
“That’s the difference when it comes to me and others … if someone wants to [pick] a fight, I’ll dig my heels in.”
He said there was no proof the threat was linked to the election campaign, but he said the timing was “interesting”.
No matter the reason for the intimidation, he said he would not back down.
“I don’t shy away from things,” Cr Funnell said. “If you have something you want to say to me, you step up and you front up.”
The threat went well beyond bullying, according to Cr Funnell, who said involving his family was “disgusting”, “disturbing” and “unnerving”.
He said threats would otherwise be “water off a duck’s back”, but this was different.
Cr Funnell said police had been patrolling his property since the call was received on Friday.
“We’ve had to change our plans, our cars,” he said. “We’ve installed new security … all sorts of things.”
With the police now handling the investigation, he hoped anyone with information would come forward and call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.