Senior right-wing Liberal was not an actual party member ... until now
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Senior right-wing Liberal was not an actual party member ... until now

A key powerbroker behind the Victorian Liberals' right faction, Mormon elder Ivan Stratov, was not even a proper party member when he won a coveted spot on its administrative committee earlier this year.

Days after the federal government's leadership debacle, factional tensions have reignited in the state branch after a motion was quietly passed on Friday night to ratify Dr Stratov's membership retrospectively.

Senior Liberty Party official, Mormon and HIV doctor Ivan Stratov.

Senior Liberty Party official, Mormon and HIV doctor Ivan Stratov.Credit:Youtube

Dr Stratov – who once made headlines after blaming ungodly love for HIV – is part of a group of religious conservatives centred on controversial powerbroker Marcus Bastiaan and Deakin MP Michael Sukkar, a key plotter in last week's insurgency against Malcolm Turnbull.

But the belated move to validate his membership comes four months after it was alleged the HIV specialist did not get the necessary approval to join the Liberals after he ran as a Family First candidate at the state election in 2010.

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Moderates in the party are outraged at the retrospective membership approval, with one senior Liberal describing it as a "clandestine trick" and a "new low for the Victorian branch."

"The Warlord faction has now confirmed – despite straight out lying to members for months – that they know Ivan was not a member," says a leaked internal newsletter by Ian Quick, who is also a member of the administrative committee.

"What happens now to all the decisions he participated [in] on Admin when they knew he wasn't a member? Why did he have access to internal party information when they knew he wasn't a member? ... Has this been a con all along?

"This makes a complete mockery of the fact the Liberal Party should stand up for proper processes and its members. It is instead acting like the CFMEU."

Liberal Party Victorian president Michael Kroger and vice-president Marcus Bastiaan.

Liberal Party Victorian president Michael Kroger and vice-president Marcus Bastiaan.Credit:Facebook

Dr Stratov declined to comment when contacted by The Age. However, party president Michael Kroger said he had always been a legitimate member and Friday's vote merely "confirmed it."

Under party rules, anyone who has run against a Liberal can only become a member with two-thirds majority vote of its state assembly. Sources have told The Age that the motion was carried 66 votes to 6.

Dr Stratov was elected to the Liberals' administrative wing in April as part of a new conservative wave that has seized power in the Victorian branch ahead of November's state election.

But Mr Quick's newsletter now accuses that group of suspending standing orders late on Friday night – when some had already left State Assembly and others were distracted by the federal leadership coup – to push through their motion granting his membership, without giving sufficient notice.

Steering committee chair Paul Mitchell rejected this, insisting that proper process had been followed.

"Ian Quick's newsletters are totally destructive to the Liberal Party winning government in 2018," Mr Mitchell said.

"They serve to divide the party. At a time when the party needs to be united, spreading mistruths about what goes on in the party is unhelpful."

An Age investigation has found at least 10 of the 78 people elected to the Liberals' administrative bodies at the party's April state council are Mormons – and Dr Stratov, who has helped the Bastiaan forces recruit more members, is the most senior.

Combined with conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians from churches such as Victory Faith Centre and City Builders, the religious right-wing now has unprecedented sway in Liberal politics.

Farrah Tomazin is an Investigative Reporter for The Age, with interests in politics, social justice, and legal affairs.

Ben Schneiders is an investigative reporter at The Age with a background reporting on industrial relations, business, politics and social issues. A two-time Walkley Award winner, he has been part of The Age’s investigative unit since 2015.