Perhaps one of the more popular topics of discussion amongst local political insiders at present is the emergence of a raft of Facebook Fan Pages claiming to support the Canberra Liberals sub-grouping, the Menzies Group.
For those not already familiar with the internal workings of the local Liberal Party, the Menzies Group is a rebel band of Canberra Liberals formed in the wake of the bitter pre-selection stoush between Gary Humphries and Zed Seselja last year.
Consisting of remnants of the so-called ‘Disaffected Rump’, the group was established by Humphries along with loyalist and former party president, Gary Kent, in order to challenge the growing dominance of the Conservative faction within the party who had been responsible for toppling Humphries.
Humphries himself had long been recognised as a leading figure of the Moderate arm of the Canberra Liberal Party. Since losing pre-selection for the top Senate spot on his party’s ticket, Humphries has continued to openly criticise his local branch for being too conservative on social policies and for allowing the gang of Young Libs loyal to Zed to effectively wreck the joint.
Fellow Menzies Group founder and former party president, Gary Kent, who was expelled from the party shortly after the Federal Election in 2013 for his outspoken comments during the pre-selection at the beginning of the year, is widely considered to have been targeted by the Seselja-controlled Management Committee due to his continual agitation over perceived failings of corporate governance by the Conservative Zed faction. After his expulsion Kent was highly critical when asked for his opinion on the party’s electoral prospects at the 2016 election.
Shortly after Kent’s expulsion towards the end of 2013 the youth wing of the party also fractured along the Humphries/Seselja divide, when a break-away group of ANU students loyal to Kent and Humphries left the established ANU Liberal Club to form their own campus society, the ANU Progressive Liberal Students’ Association (APLSA).
The momentum generated on campus by this new society is reported to have alarmed the Seselja-controlled Management Committee so greatly that steps were undertaken immediately to block any student from the ANU suspected to be associated with the APLSA from joining the Canberra Liberals so as to ensure these young Menzians would not disrupt Pax Seselja.
Frustration over the unreasonable delays processing these new signups led to division in the new society itself when sections of the APLSA Executive more closely aligned with Humphries failed to back a senior club member aligned with Kent during an internal dispute with the Young Libs loyal to Zed.
It is widely held in party circles that the young Kentsmen who left the society over this spat are behind the formation of the new suite of Menzies Group Fan Pages that have appeared this week.
Those pages associated with this new advent in Liberal factional brawling include;
Recent news from the Kaine Report Fan Page, sympathetic to the Kent aligned Menzies Group Fan Page, indicates this web-based conflict between Kent and Humphries supporters appears to have spread to wrangling over ownership of the “official” Menzies Group email address.