Gary Humphries and Zed Seselja in the Senate courtyard at Parliament House to front the media. Photo: Colleen Petch
The Canberra Liberals have mounted a public defence of the process being used to preselect the party's senate candidate for the September federal election.
The party has been under fire internally with allegations that the process has been manipulated to the advantage of challenger and party leader Zed Seselja.
But Party President Tio Faulkner has released statement today saying the process was fully compliant with the party's constitution.
The row centres on the rule requiring preselectors to have attended a party meeting within six months of the preselection vote.
Mr Faulkner, a former staff member to Mr Seselja, directly contradicted statements made in the media by the incumbent Gary Humphries.
"At the outset, I would like to confirm that the process in place fully complies with the (party's) constitution, and is the same process used in the 2010, 2007, 2004, 2002, and earlier, preselections," Mr Faulkner said in his statement.
"Senator Humphries sits on Management Committee as the federal representative of the party.
The Management Committee unanimously agreed to the timetable in December and Senator Humphries was consulted on 3 December about this.
"He raised no objection at that time, in the interim, or at any time until a challenger was announced.
"Senator Humphries said on ABC radio that the first he had known of the preselection date was in January.
"This is incorrect."
Mr Faulkner confirmed that the party's powerful Management Committee had rejected requests to extent the qualifying period
"The Management Committee will not bend the rules by extending the constitutionally stipulated six month period to attend a branch meeting," Mr Faulkner said.
"Indeed if this was done this would result in some members currently eligible becoming ineligible."