It's (back) on: Libs to hold new preselection meeting

It's (back) on: Libs to hold new preselection meeting

The ACT Liberals will hold a new divisional council meeting to thrash out the bitter Senate preselection process that has divided the party since Zed Seselja's win over incumbent Gary Humphries last month.

An offiicial notice issued by the party's central office on Friday night said the meeting would be held on Friday, March 15, and warned party members that ''to be able to exercise voting rights you must have voting status''.

Bob Winnel was excluded from voting on February 23.

Bob Winnel was excluded from voting on February 23.Credit:Richard Briggs

The warning comes after more than 280 Canberra Liberals flocked to branch meetings this week as members scrambled to be part of the now-confirmed second round of preselection.

The notice issued on Friday night said the divisional council would resolve to ''initiate a process for the pre-selection of candidates by the Division for the Federal elections scheduled for 14 September 2013'' and '''direct the Management Committee to immediately commence a new process for the preselection of candidates''.


The turnout at three meetings on Thursday night, with a fourth abandoned due to poor attendance, means there are at least 82 more voting members, and probably many more, than were permitted to cast ballots in Mr Seselja's win over Senator Humphries on February 23.

The full number of eligible voters will not be known for several days.

The conflict engulfing the party centres on the right to vote, with many members alleging the process was manipulated to exclude supporters of Senator Humphries, who lost the vote by 114 to 84, with less than 30 per cent of the party's 640

members participating. A group of Liberals is pushing for the result of the preselection to be overturned.

It appears their wish has been granted because members can now attend the March 15 meeting to qualify to participate in any fresh ballot.

The local party's greatest fund-raiser, building magnate Bob Winnel, who was excluded from voting on February 23, managed to register as a preselector on Thursday evening on his fourth attempt.

But another Liberal elder, former senator Margaret Reid, looks likely to miss out again after a planned meeting of the Young Liberals at Barton's Menzies House on Thursday evening was abandoned after it failed to reach a quorum of the party's youth wing.

After the Menzies House gathering collapsed, a number of senior party members, including Mr Winnel, made their way to Tuggeranong's Southern Cross Club and joined a gathering of the Liberals' Southern Electorate Branch, which attracted about 170 attendees.

A meeting of the Northern Electorate Branch on Monday night attracted 55 members, more than double the branch's largest turnout in the past six months, while 56 Liberals went to a meeting of the Gungahlin branch on Thursday.


Former ACT division president Gary Kent, who has driven the push to have the preselection overturned, said he was encouraged by the turnout for the meetings. ''My objective is simply that we have as many people as possible voting to ensure a fair result,'' he said.

Mr Seselja was not available for comment on Friday.

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