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Angry Liberal quits in preselection row

Ramon Montero was refused the right to vote in the upcoming preselection.

Ramon Montero was refused the right to vote in the upcoming preselection. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

A long-term Canberra Liberals member says he has left the party in disgust because he was unfairly denied the right to vote in the coming preselection.

Belconnen businessman Ramon Montero says the party is ''dysfunctional'' and called for an inquiry into the management of his Northern Electorate Branch.

Incumbent Senator Gary Humphries said Mr Montero's treatment was ''outrageous'' and the preselection was a ''disgrace'' and a ''laughing stock''.

Senator Gary Humphries.

Senator Gary Humphries. Photo: Andrew Meares

Party officials did not respond on Sunday to requests for comment.

Mr Humphries is being challenged for his No.1 Senate spot by former party leader and Legislative Assembly member Zed Seselja and the contest has grown increasingly bitter. Some members are angry they did not know the preselection would be contested until after it was too late to register to vote.

Mr Montero said he believed he had fulfilled the requirement to become a preselector only to be told the meetings he had attended had not achieved a quorum and did not count as qualifying meetings.

ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja.

ACT Opposition Leader Zed Seselja. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

The decision will rule out many members of the Northern Electorate Branch.

''As a proud member of the Liberal Party, I went to the Canberra Liberals office in Civic to vote in the pre-polling for the party's pre-selection for the electorate of Fraser for the 2013 federal election,'' Mr Montero told Fairfax Media.

''I was surprised and disappointed to discover that I was not eligible to cast my vote because a number of Northern Electorate Branch meetings I attended did not achieve quorum.

''I am extremely upset about this.''

Mr Montero said he felt betrayed after supporting the party physically and financially. ''As a loyal member of the party I had the shock of my life to be treated this way and feel insulted,'' he said.

''I feel offended after all the work I put into the last local election and many others before, financially and physically.

''I attended those meeting in good faith, believing in our party.

''The president of the branch should have reported these failures to the management committee and there should be inquiry into the management of the branch.''

Mr Montero said he was going public because he wanted the broader electorate to know the party was ''dysfunctional''.

''The party has treated me with contempt and I am personally very hurt indeed,'' he said. ''I am a strong believer that the people of Canberra must know about it and how the party is dysfunctional now.''

Senator Humphries said party members should not be denied a vote in the preselection over a technical issue.

''This is absolutely outrageous,'' the senator wrote to Mr Montero.

''Each of these members went into the preselection process believing they were fully qualified to participate, only to discover that, because a technical issue had not been addressed by party officials, they are no longer eligible.

''This preselection was already a disgrace. It has now become a laughing stock as well.''

ACT Liberals president Tio Faulkner said he had sympathy for the members who had found out they were not eligible to be a preselector.

''It is disappointing for them, for me and for the party. However, the rules have been and can only be applied fairly across the board - we cannot bend and change after the event.

''This issue was discussed in depth at a management committee meeting where it was unanimously agreed that the constitutional rules must be followed. There is simply no way to bend the rules for people who, unfortunately, find out they cannot vote in the preselection.

''It is important to note that this happens at every council meeting and preselection. It is vital to note that this applies across the division and does not favour one candidate over another.

''In fact, Mr Seselja approached the returning officer to see if there was any way, within the constitution, that this could be addressed as some of his supporters found themselves in the same position. The answer to him is the same answer to everyone - the rules are there to protect all candidates, all members and the division.''

37 comments

  • Zed is now in panic mode. If he loses the challenge and Gary Humphries gets to keep his seat in the Senate, won't Zed be out of a seat altogether and out of a job? I guess that means it's time to pull out all the dirty tricks to get through this one. I am a little surprised that his head has grown so big that even the ACT Chief Minister's job no longer appeals to him anymore so he's now got his eye on Federal Politics. Maybe his mother thinks he could be the next Prime Minister and he needs to impress his mum? Today it's a challenge to Gary Humphries and tomorrow it will be to Tony Abbott. I think Katie Gallagher is having a chuckle about this one even if privately.

    Commenter
    Felix
    Location
    ACT
    Date and time
    February 17, 2013, 11:55PM
    • hahaha Felix, Zed in panic mode? Did you not read the story? The only one who is panicking here (and to ridiculous proportions) is Gary Humphries. And you're right about one thing, Katy and Labor are no doubt having a great time enjoying all the public warring, and who's continuing to feed it and playing straight into their hands? Gary. He has lost control.

      Commenter
      Nate
      Date and time
      February 18, 2013, 7:45AM
    • I have to agree with Nate. Gary's pandering to the media reeks of the desperation of a drowning man. All because he was caught snoozing when a legitimate challenge came along. Grow up Gary.

      Commenter
      Rockette
      Date and time
      February 18, 2013, 10:47AM
    • Frankly, I'd be happy with both of them losing out (if that's at all possible). They are both far right-wing Big-L Liberals and we've already got too many anti-women's reproductive rights fanatics in Federal Parliament anyway with Tony Abbott and his cronies.

      Commenter
      Felix
      Location
      ACT
      Date and time
      February 18, 2013, 1:02PM
  • Ambush!!

    Commenter
    olfella
    Date and time
    February 18, 2013, 2:10AM
    • Tio Faulkner extolling the virtues of rule following and fair play! As he even knows the meaning of such sentiments! If Mr Humphries chose to distance himself further from these wannabes and run as an independent I think he'd gain a lot of support.

      Commenter
      Janie1
      Date and time
      February 18, 2013, 6:53AM
      • Agreed! He would probably gain as much support and Mr Mulchay!! Hahahahaha

        Commenter
        madzac05
        Date and time
        February 18, 2013, 8:12AM
      • Zed, Tio and co should join the Labour party; this is more their style.

        Commenter
        Wing Nut
        Date and time
        February 18, 2013, 9:17AM
    • I'm sure the party will be better off without him now, so a good result all-round.
      If Zed himself addressed a similar problem in the process regarding his own supporters then what is Gary on about? So he wants special treatment for his supporters, but complains when he feels the process is unfair? Come on! I used to respect this bloke, but he's sounding more and more negative every day and seems to be blinded by sheer desperation to keep his job. So you were caught off guard when Zed announced he was going to run, three words - get over it. Time to move on Gary and stop trying to damage the party further.

      Commenter
      Linnie
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 18, 2013, 7:42AM
      • Think outside the square, Linnie. If Zed already has the numbers because of so many non-meetings that the party faithful attended, then he can ask his mates in the management committee knowing full well that they will give him the answer he wants to hear. He doesn't need those extra votes and if they were allowed then it would mean that Gary would probably get the numbers to ensure that the big Zero would be rightfully banished to oblivion.

        I am most definitely not going to vote Liberal this time around if all I am likely to get is a plastic bag ban would-be repealer.

        Commenter
        Getting Serious
        Date and time
        February 18, 2013, 10:29AM

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