The Canberra Liberals have all but conceded Zed Seselja will lose his Senate seat in what is being described as a "bitter blow" for the local branch on top of the Coalition's federal election drubbing.
In a leaked email to branch members, president John Cziesla also claimed the "left" had spent more than $12 million in an "unprecedented" decade-long campaign to win the Liberals' seat, and accused the media of not scrutinising Senator Seselja's opponents during the campaign.
Mr Cziesla said following the weekend's election result the Liberal Party must also "face the reality" that its traditional values were no longer shared in heartland areas and that the "forgotten people of the 2020s may no longer be the same as the forgotten people of the 1950s".
It's unclear from the email if Mr Cziesla was referring to the local branch or the federal party.
With almost 80 per cent of the vote counted, Senator Seselja is still yet to concede defeat despite election analysts predicting independent David Pocock will clinch the ACT's second seat on the back of preferences from the Greens and Kim Rubenstein.
But the branch is coming to the realisation that its near 50-year hold on one of the ACT's two Senate seats is slipping away.
"While counting of the ACT Senate vote continues at something of a glacial pace, it is clear that Zed's path to retaining the Senate seat is very narrow and Pocock remains the front runner to gain the seat on preferences," Mr Cziesla said in an email to members seen by The Canberra Times.
"This will no doubt come as a bitter blow for all Canberra Liberals on top of the loss nationally."
Mr Cziesla said in the past decade the Canberra Liberals had faced an "unprecedented campaign in relation to its longevity, scale, funding, and viciousness to unseat a single parliamentary seat".
He said based on preliminary estimates, the "left" had spent more than $12 million over that period in attempts to win the Liberals' seat. Senator Seselja has won four Senate elections since quitting the ACT Legislative Assembly in 2013.
Without naming any outlets or Mr Pocock himself, Mr Cziesla claimed the media hadn't "bothered" to scrunitise Senator's Seselja's opponents or their policies or tactics.
The Coalition's election thrashing has ignited fierce debate within the party about its future direction.
Adding his voice to the post-mortem, the Canberra Liberals president said the party must remain committed to its traditional values while also facing up to the reality that they're no longer shared in its heartland seats.
"As a party if we are to offer anything to the future of the nation, we must remain committed to the values that underpin our party, values such as freedom of speech, thought, association and religion, to remain the party of the forgotten people and the party of those who aspire to create a better life for themselves and their families," he said.
"But we must also face the reality that those values are no longer shared, at least not at anything more than a superficial level, in areas that were once Liberal heartland and that forgotten people of the 2020s may no longer be the same as the forgotten people of the 1950s."
Mr Cziesla said the party would dust itself off and continue to fight.
"Politics is cyclical and our time, even in the ACT, will come again," he said.
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