Tio Faulkner president of the Canberra Liberals.

Tio Faulkner president of the Canberra Liberals. Photo: Melissa Adams

ACT Liberal Party president Tio Faulkner is backing Zed Seselja in Saturday’s bitter preselection battle, upsetting some party members who believe he should  remain neutral.

Mr Faulkner’s role is revealed in confidential nomination forms completed by Mr Seselja and Gary Humphries.

Mr Seselja is tipped to win Saturday’s fight to be the Liberals’ lead Senate candidate, with only  about  200 of the party’s membership of 600 being allowed to vote.

The documents show the pitch  to Liberal Party members by the rivals, as well as the backers for each candidate.

Some of Senator Humphries’ supporters are complaining they will not be able to vote on Saturday after attending meetings later found not to  have been  properly constituted.

Mr Faulkner is a former staffer of Mr Seselja and his name appears as Mr Seselja’s first referee on the nomination form.

The others are fellow Liberal MLAs  Brendan Smyth, Jeremy Hanson and Alistair Coe.

A party insider said on Friday complaints had been received from members who were uncomfortable with Mr Faulkner’s name appearing so prominently in the nomination papers, even though he has not campaigned publicly for Mr Seselja.

Mr Faulkner and the management committee are refusing requests to reopen the rolls.  However, former president Gary Kent and 100 other members petitioned Mr Faulkner on Thursday to hold a meeting of the party’s divisional council next month where they would try to have the preselection overturned.

The complaint was reinforced publicly by Dianne Anderson who said many members of the Canberra Liberals would be denied a vote in Saturday’s preselection, sparking allegations of “dirty tricks”. Writing in The Canberra Times as a party member, she said Mr Seselja announced his candidature after the qualifying meetings for branch members had been held.

“While the preselection may conform with the relevant constitutional provisions, it is seen by many members as not being in accord with the ethical precepts and ideals of the party,” she wrote.

“This is the predominant reason for the recent outrage among members of the party over the preselection process.”

 The nomination forms confirm the messages already given publicly by the two candidates.

Senator Humphries has said Canberra needs him as its champion because of cuts to programs expected if Tony Abbott wins the election.

“Restoring economic security and recurring budget surpluses will come at some cost to the people of Canberra,” Senator Humphries wrote.

“The federal budget cannot be brought under control without restraint in Commonwealth spending, hence our commitment to shed 12,000 jobs from the public service.

“During this inevitable period of restructuring, Canberra will need an advocate and a champion within the ranks of the new government, a person capable of forcefully putting Canberra’s case to his colleagues in the midst of the process. I can play that role, as I have done before.”

Mr Seselja promises to maintain conservative values and not “run to the left” if he wins. “As [ACT Opposition] Leader I insisted that we should not sacrifice our values or run to the left in order to attract support and I believe that being true to our Liberal values, along with hard work in the electorate was key to massive swings to the Liberal Party in the outer suburbs of up to 18 per cent,” he said.