FOR weeks the campaigning before Saturday’s Penrith byelection has focused on the resignation of the local Labor MP, Karyn Paluzzano, traffic matters and the safety of a local bridge.Suddenly, the candidates have been given something else to ponder: what to do about Dennis Ferguson.Reports that Mr Ferguson, a 61-year-old convicted paedophile who was hounded from his previous place of residence in Ryde by vigilante resident groups after his release from prison, has been ”spotted” in the Penrith area surfaced late last week.Penrith’s police commander, Superintendent Ben Feszczuk, told a local newspaper on Monday: ”I have not been consulted about it and I have not been given any information. I’m not saying it’s false. I’ve got no knowledge of his presence here or anywhere else.”However, the rumours were given some legitimacy when they were posted on the official Facebook page of the Liberal candidate, Stuart Ayres. ”Chase the f—ing grub out of town guys!” one poster urged.Another directed readers to a Facebook group featuring comments urging violence against Mr Ferguson.Mr Ayres said he had learned of the rumours on Facebook and in the media and had called the local area command yesterday.”They confirmed with me the reports in the media [but said] they are not aware of him being in the area,” he said.”Facebook is there for people to get in touch with me, raise issues and where I can follow up on their inquiries, and that’s what I have done in this case.”The Labor candidate, John Thain, said: ”If Dennis Ferguson is in Penrith or the Lower Blue Mountains, I will do everything in my power to ensure the Housing Minister knows my views [he] has no place in my community.”As a father, I am sickened by the sheer idea of his presence.”However, Brett Collins, who has defended Mr Ferguson from previous attacks by residents’ groups, dismissed the concerns.”The reality of it is that he is safe and sound and with us a lot of the time.”There is no reason for him not to be in Penrith. He’s got friends out there as well as in Ryde. There’s no reason to be concerned.”
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