The home branch of key crossbench senator Ricky Muir’s party has voted to disband itself and revoke the senator’s membership, in protest at the treatment of grassroots members by the senator and senior officials.
The Victorian branch and the central branch of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, which is dominated by Queensland founder Keith Littler, who now works for Senator Muir, have been at loggerheads ever since the shock election of the senator last year.
The Victorian branch was sacked by the central branch following September’s election – however the state branch does not recognise this move and has held meetings in protest.
Senator Muir never attends these meetings, and he wasn't present at Wednesday night’s AGM in Oakleigh when the branch voted to disband and revoke his membership.
The attempted break-up of the party raises a potential constitutional headache if Senator Muir leaves Parliament before his six-year term expires.
Normally the party would find a replacement which would then be endorsed by the Victorian Parliament but with no formal party in existence in Victoria it is unknown how it would function.
“The Vic [sic] members recognise that there is no direct course of action available when it comes to an elected senator, however they make it very clear that Ricky Muir faces a term as an independent senator, for his endorsement has been withdrawn by AMEP Vic, he has been expelled from the AMEP Vic branch, his membership revoked and he is no longer recognised as a representative of Vic motoring enthusiasts,’’ one of the motions passed on Wednesday says.
The acting chair of the Victorian state council Stuart Brown said the reality was the party no longer existed in Victoria. He also said the party was declining in other states.
The meeting heard that was clearly no connection or affiliation with the people who voted and supported Senator Muir into the Senate.
“There is a general consensus amongst the membership that the initial promises and intentions of the party have been overwritten for personal goals,’’ the report of the meeting to members says.
Three motions were passed by the meeting, including closing the branch and no confidence in the national leadership team, especially Mr Littler.
Mr Littler on Thursday declared the meeting unauthorised as it was held by ex-members of the Victorian Federal State Council
“The ethics, agenda, claims and motivation of its conveners is highly questionable,’’ Mr Littler said.
“Individuals from the dismissed FSC have grasped every opportunity to slander, defame, and undermine Senator Muir and members of the party executive through print, electronic and social media; frequently perpetrating untruths and misinformation whilst consistently demonstrating their lack of unity and respect for the AMEP, Senator Muir, and the community we represent.”
Constitutional expert Professor George Williams from UNSW said it was a grey area of the constitution but the most likely result would be a replacement from someone in the party, regardless of whether it still existed in Victoria.