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Size matters in weighing up preselection

ACT Liberals are engaged in a new brawl over the battle for the No.1 spot on the party's Senate ticket for the federal election.

The latest argument is over the size of a room.

The room in question is where next week's divisional council meeting will be held to consider if last month's preselection should be cancelled and reheld.

The preselection resulted in former ACT opposition leader Zed Seselja ousting incumbent senator Gary Humphries from the top of the ticket.

Members who were outraged at not being allowed to vote because they had not attended qualifying branch meetings have forced a divisional council for March 27.

The outrage continues, however, because the Liberal Party secretariat has booked a room in a hotel that can only accommodate about 200 people.


In a newsletter calling itself "the latest edition of preselection news", past divisional president Gary Kent has written to party members suggesting a far bigger space is required.

"It is understood that the room hired by the division will hold no more than 200 people, whereas it is likely the total number of party members attending the meeting will be well above 300," he wrote.

"Urgent representations have been made to the division asking that the meeting be moved to somewhere more spacious."

Another party member, who asked for anonymity, was a little more blunt when speaking to The Canberra Times. "It is pretty obvious that the forces behind this whole fiasco still want to have people turned away from a meeting so they can't have their say.

"They turned people away from last month's preselection vote and now they are hoping to turn people away who want to have a vote about that vote," the contact said.

Meanwhile, some longstanding female members of the party, including former Senate president Margaret Reid, have asked for, and been refused, another women's council executive meeting to allow some members to qualify to vote.

ACT Liberal women's council president Kate Davis, who works for ACT Deputy Opposition Leader Alistair Coe, replied in writing to the request saying the next meeting of the women's council executive was scheduled for April 4.

No earlier meetings will be called.

"I understand that the divisional council meeting is now on the 27th of March and that there have been a number of meetings organised that will ensure members have voting rights before this," Ms Davis wrote.

Some supporters of Senator Humphries have also accused Liberal Party MLAs of telephoning members and urging them to support Mr Seselja's position that last month's preselection outcome should stand.

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