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I'll stand again, senator declares

Gary Humphries says he will contest a second preselection if the result of last Saturday's ballot is overturned.

Gary Humphries says he will contest a second preselection if the result of last Saturday's ballot is overturned. Photo: Andrew Meares

The battle for the Canberra Liberals Senate nomination is not over, with Gary Humphries declaring he will contest a second preselection if the result of Saturday's ballot is overturned.

The senator's announcement on Wednesday came as former opposition leader Zed Seselja faced a day of attacks from ACT government MLAs in the Legislative Assembly for ''betraying'' the voters of Tuggeranong Valley.

The Senate candidate was heckled in the chamber for ''walking away'' from Brindabella voters and heard cries of ''Gary's making a comeback'' from across the floor as news of Senator Humphries' decision spread.

Senator Humphries wrote to the party's ACT membership on Tuesday night to say he would seek the division's number one nomination for the Senate if a new preselection process was called.

The senator, who lost Saturday's ballot 84 votes to 114 to Mr Seselja, had initially expressed reluctance to contest a second preselection.

Former ACT division president Gary Kent has led a push by disaffected party members to have the process overturned after hundreds of members were ruled ineligible to vote in the preselection.

The result looks certain to be challenged at an extraordinary meeting of the ACT division in March following a petition by party members.

Internal unrest about the process continued on Wednesday, with party members also claiming that the inability of some members to vote had affected the preselection result for the House of Representatives seat of Canberra.

In an email to the ACT division membership on Tuesday, Senator Humphries wrote that he had received ''many emails, letters and phone calls from party members deeply upset with the manner in

which the preselection was conducted. More disturbingly, I have also received news from many party members who were refused the right to vote in the ballot on Saturday. These were members who had previously been informed by the ACT Division of the Party that they were eligible voting preselectors, but whose right to vote was 'withdrawn' on the day …

''I am aware that an extraordinary meeting of the ACT Party's Divisional Council will be held soon to address a motion that the preselection of 23 February be set aside and a fresh one conducted,'' he wrote. ''I indicate today that if this motion is successful, and the preselection of 23 February is set aside, I will offer myself as a Senate candidate at the subsequent preselection.''

Mr Seselja accused Senator Humphries on Wednesday of ''reneging'' on his commitment to accept Saturday's result.

The former ACT opposition leader said he was ''pleased to receive the strong endorsement of the Liberal Party to be the Senate candidate''.

''I'm disappointed that Gary Humphries has reneged on his commitment made both before and after the preselection that he would accept the result,'' Mr Seselja said. ''I will respect all internal Liberal Party processes and I have every confidence that the constitution has been complied with by the returning officer and management committee.''

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