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Key Seselja allies back working for ACT Libs

Date

Noel Towell

Tio Faulkner president of the Canberra Liberals party.

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

Two key Liberal powerbrokers and Zed Seselja allies have returned to work at the Legislative Assembly as the former leader continues his bid for the party's Senate preselection.

Mr Seselja's brother-in-law and former chief of staff Steve Doyle has taken a temporary contract in the office of new leader Jeremy Hanson.

He joins party president and former Seselja staffer Tio Faulkner who has been working, also on a temporary contract, in the office of Liberal Speaker Vicki Dunne.

Steven Doyle, Zed Seselja's former chief of staff.

Steven Doyle, Zed Seselja's former chief of staff. Photo: Andrew Sheargold

Mr Seselja resigned as leader this month and will challenge sitting Senator Gary Humphries in an internal preselection ballot next Saturday.

Mr Hanson said on Friday that Mr Doyle was attached to the leader's office on a temporary basis.

"He's just helping with the transition. Obviously there are a lot of changes occurring with my stepping up to the leadership," he said.

"He's helping me out with the process, but, at this stage, that's just a limited appointment and I would anticipate that it would cease within a number of weeks."

In the increasingly bitter preselection stoush, Mr Humphries was buoyed on Thursday by messages of support by senior federal Liberal frontbenchers and their leader, Tony Abbott.

The Coalition's parliamentary tactician, Christopher Pyne, has written to ACT Liberal Party members extolling Senator Humphries's experience.

But Mr Seselja picked up an endorsement of his own on Friday with Mr Hanson publicly backing his former boss to win the party's number one Senate spot.

"I've worked with Zed for four years now," Mr Hanson said. "He's been my parliamentary leader and I've had the opportunity to observe him at close detail and he obviously resonates very well in the community.

"I have my faith in Zed and he has my support."

The new leader said he was confident that allegations by disgruntled party members that the preselection process had breached the party's constitution were unfounded.

"It is process that has been conducted entirely in accordance with the constitution so there's been no advantage one way or another to either candidate, so in that sense it's fair," Mr Hanson said.

He said the support for Mr Humphries from his federal colleagues was "understandable".

"I understand that Gary's parliamentary colleagues will be supporting him and I think that that's natural, that's understandable," he said.

"We'll have a result next week and I'm confident that whichever candidate is selected, the party will move on and get behind that candidate.

"It's been a traditional thing starting with John Howard to support incumbents, so I don't think it's particularly surprising that that's the case."

Asked if he thought the feuding was damaging the party, Mr Hanson conceded that the process had been difficult but said he was confident that the party would come together once again.

"It's a difficult process, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"The stakes are high but what will happen is that we will get the right person for the job and, when we do, that the party will unite behind that candidate.''

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