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Seselja's Senate bid stirs disquiet


Noel Towell

18th October 2012, Story by Lisa Cox , Canberra Times Photograph by, Colleen Petch,  (l to r ) Gary Humphries and Zed ...

18th October 2012, Story by Lisa Cox , Canberra Times Photograph by, Colleen Petch, (l to r ) Gary Humphries and Zed Seselja in the Senate courtyard at Parliament House to front the media. Photo: Colleen Petch

The Canberra Liberal Party was accused on Tuesday evening of manipulating the pre-selection process to the advantage of Senate challenger Zed Seselja.

And the party's powerful management committee will hold a hastily convened meeting on Wednesday evening in response to the claims and consider re-writing the timetable for this month's Senate pre-selection vote.

Party insiders say the pre-selection process has been rushed in an attempt to minimise the amount of support sitting Senator Gary Humphries can mobilise before the pre-selectors vote on February 23.

ACT Liberals Leader, Zed Seselja.

ACT Liberals Leader, Zed Seselja. Photo: Rohan Thomson

But Fairfax understands that after a fiery meeting of the Central Electorate Branch in Canberra's inner-south on Tuesday night, Division President Tio Faulkner agreed to a meeting of the 13 members of the management committee.

Among those who confronted Mr Faulkner about the process at last night's meeting at the Minter Ellison building in Barton were Senator Humphries and former branch president Gary Kent. Mr Humphries declined to discuss the process with Fairfax on Tuesday.

But Mr Kent claims that the number of pre-selectors had been ''artificially limited'' and that some members had been ''in the dark'' about the vote until the 11th hour.

But Mr Seselja, who will resign as ACT party leader to pursue his challenge of Senator Humphries, dismissed the claims, saying the Senator himself was on the management committee and he and his supporters had plenty of time to get organised for the pre-selection.

The rolls for the poll have closed and any party member who has not registered as pre-selector before the deadline is now ineligible to vote.

Mr Kent said before the meeting that he had written to Mr Faulkner expressing ''deep concern'' about the pre-selection. Party rules state that only members who have attended a properly constituted internal meeting in the previous six months are eligible to vote as pre-selectors.

But Mr Kent, a long time internal opponent of Mr Seselja, told Fairfax that in his view there had been a deliberate attempt to limit opportunities to attend ''qualifying meetings''. Mr Kent claimed that this was ''completely contrary to the party's democratic ideals''. ''The pre-selection dates were decided … on 10 December yet party members were not notified until 21 January, 2013. This attempt to keep members in the dark about this important vote is totally unprecedented.''

Mr Kent said he believed that fewer than 240 of the city's Liberals, out of a total local membership believed to be about 640, would vote in the contest between Mr Seselja and Senator Humphries.

''I have been told that approximately only one third of ACT Liberal Party members will be able to vote in the pre-selection on 23 February,'' he said. But Mr Seselja, who also sits on the management committee, was unfazed. ''All I would say is the processes are very open and transparent in the party,'' Mr Seselja said.

''As far as I can tell they would have been determined by a management committee, of which Gary [Humphries] is a part, and I think they would have been presented to the annual general meeting as well.

''So, all of the membership has had a chance and I think it's a pretty long - I think you get six months in our party, if you attend a meeting six months prior to pre-selection you're eligible.


  • Another non-story. Should the heading read, "Towell Stirs Disquiet [again]"?

    Date and time
    February 06, 2013, 10:39AM
    • What is a story, but will never make the light of day, or did on The Project last night, was yesterday when Krudd was talking to reporters outside the church , and he said " Some of you look like you could do with being in church rather than outside here"and a reporter said " I would rather be out here in the fresh air "... Now Noel, why is this not a story ???...I tell you what if Abbott said it , he would be crucified for it. It just shows the hypocrisy of the media, Krudd can be all religious and nothing is said, yet if Abbott scratched his forehead, the media would say he is blessing him self.

      Martin Says
      Date and time
      February 06, 2013, 2:51PM
  • They are putting the cart before the horse here. Neither of these two warrant a vote from any thinking Canberran. They are merely puppets of Mr Rabbott.

    Donkey Vote
    Date and time
    February 06, 2013, 10:55AM
    • Given the Liberal election campaign in the ACT, Zed is somewhat optimistic isn't he?

      Outraged of Palmerston
      Date and time
      February 06, 2013, 12:27PM
      • As a Party member, the processes are NOT open and there is serious impropriety from the President, Zed and his team.

        Gary Kent is correct, he calls it how it is. Over 65% of the membership cannot vote in pre-selection. Tio Faulkner has attacked the membership and shown his complete bias and questionable practices.

        From the time sheet fiasco, the employment of friends and family and complete disregard for financial party members, it is evident that the party membership is not being listened to. Tio has threatened members for political gain.

        Date and time
        February 06, 2013, 12:58PM
        • I think the term that comes to mind is bloody big sook.
          Pickup your ball and go away Seselja.

          OLD DOG
          Date and time
          February 06, 2013, 1:30PM
          Comments are now closed

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