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Doubt cast over members' preselection votes

Date

Lisa Cox and Noel Towell

Canberra Liberals leader Zed Seselja.

Canberra Liberals leader Zed Seselja. Photo: Karleen Minney

The internal revolt in the Canberra Liberal Party over the Senate preselection vote has spread, with a key branch raising more questions about the validity of the process.

With the row focused on members' eligibility to vote and their attendance of "qualifying meetings", the party's northern electorate branch secretary says many of his branch's Liberals may not be eligible to cast ballots in the preselection.

Incumbent Senator Gary Humphries has cried foul over the management of the preselection, saying it was timed to minimise the amount of support he could mobilise against the challenge of local party leader Zed Seselja.

Now northern electorate branch secretary Martin Gordon has written to the ACT division's general secretary and president, saying that many of his branch's meetings since July 2012 failed to achieve a quorum. The party's constitution states that a member cannot vote in a preselection unless they have attended a meeting within six months of the poll but the meetings must be quorate and seven days' notice must be given to members.

The failure could have the meetings ruled invalid as "qualifying meetings" and northern electorate branch members who attended meetings with fewer than 20 people taken off the pre-selection rolls.

Concerns have also been raised about the final two party meetings held before the rolls closed, with party sources claiming seven days notice was not given to members as

required by the party's constitution and the meetings should be declared invalid. There are also claims that one of the two meetings, a women's council meeting held on January 31, ran for just 17 minutes, had no agenda and some members were asked to attend and simply "sign the book and walk out".

The Canberra Liberals management committee ruled at a meeting on Wednesday night that the preselection process complied with the party's constitution.

But in a letter to the ACT division on Wednesday, Mr Gordon questioned the process and demanded the president and general secretary "clarify the issue of quorate meetings" and which of his branch members were eligible preselectors.

Attendance lists from four branch meetings held between July and November 2012 show just one meeting achieved a quorum.

Mr Gordon said he was worried that his branch members might be locked out of the process, even though many of them had been active in the Liberals' 2012 territory election.

Former branch president Gary Kent has also written to the management committee questioning the validity of the Young Liberals and women's council meetings held at the end of January, saying most members of those branches had only received four to five days notice of those meetings.

Mr Kent said: "I believe that those meetings were not valid."

16 comments so far

  • Wonderful - better than Shakespere!

    Still not voting Liberal.

    Commenter
    Outraged of Palmerston
    Date and time
    February 08, 2013, 8:45AM
    • Shakespeare, even. Makes a change from watching Labor tear themselves apart. I thought you were a true blue dinky-di Liberal, Outraged. Don't tell me you've seen the light and have joined the Greens, have you?

      Commenter
      yumq
      Location
      Reid
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 9:32AM
    • Makes a change from watching Labor tear themselves apart.

      Commenter
      yumq
      Location
      Reid
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 10:00AM
  • If Zed can forego his own inflated ambition and actually get some runs on the board in his current role, I think people may be more inclined to think he could succeed Gary Humphries, at some point in the future.

    He ran his campaign on the basis that he would do certain things in the role for which he was applying. Will the people who voted for him feel betrayed? Quite possibly.

    Commenter
    twentytwenty
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    February 08, 2013, 9:13AM
    • EXACTLY.

      Commenter
      Nitro Gangster
      Location
      ACT
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 9:24AM
    • +1

      Commenter
      JD
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 9:31AM
  • Gee, I'm surprised the media is reporting this, I thought they only focused on bad news in the Labor Party. It's meaningless whoever wins as Abbott intends to decimate Canberra and send public service jobs to northern Australia as was indicated in yesterday's leaked report. Public servants should start shedding their winter clothes and get ready to live in the tropics. Whatever happened to the Ashby Affair? You know, the one where a judge appointed by Liberal Ruddock found a criminal conspiracy to destroy Slipper and bring down a government involving senior Coalition figures including Brough. Why isn't that story being reported any more? This is Australia's Watergate yet the media solely focuses on Labor news. Humphries and Zed have done nothing for Canberra and will be powerless to stop the slashing and burning. Hopefully they won't get control of the Senate or God help us. It's sad that Canberra's 100th year will be a farewell party.

    Commenter
    Eric Olthwaite
    Date and time
    February 08, 2013, 9:23AM
    • But I would be happy to go North and build a new Jerusalem. I do not get why Australians are so afraid of Free Trade Zones and so wedded to the former Colonies as being the only form of structure for the Commonwealth.

      Commenter
      Outraged of Palmerston
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 9:54AM
    • Eric, the media have a cosy relationship with politicians so they're not going to say or do anything that challenges that comfortable parasitical existence. Today in an editorial, this paper freely states that Zed's senate ambitions have been a well known, well-kept secret since even before the last local election, but to my knowledge it's never been reported in the CT. I'm curious why this monumental snippet of information wasn't relayed to the good people of Canberra but rather kept under wraps.

      Commenter
      yumq
      Location
      Reid
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 10:10AM
    • Eric
      I was outraged on the 6/2/2013 when Krudd said to Reporters outside church that they should be inside the church rather than outside, A female reporter said she would rather be out side. if Abbott said that he would have been told to resign, but no Krudd got away with it. Abbott just has to scratch his forehead and the media screams he has blessed himself..As for the draft policy your talking about, it was a" exposure policy ", which means nothing at all. As for Brough he is no longer an issue because the court found he did nothing wrong, no charges can be made against someone giving legal advice.( Unless you know more then everyone else ) As for the media focusing on Labor, well they are the Government of the day, and gosh they give the reporters some stories to write.As for Humphries, I don't really think he has done much for Canberra, the only hope we have is if the Liberals gain control of the senate. and as for Abbott he promised " No nights of long knives ", but P.S. bosses may be put on notice.I think most losses will be through redundancies Labor has done the Liberals dirty work.

      Commenter
      Martin Says
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 12:02PM

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