Crikey have had a poke at the Gary Humphries knifing.
It’s interesting to consider that at the Parliamentary level the conservative Zed is squeezing the numbers of the moderates.
The grip of the big-C Conservatives on the federal Coalition may be about to tighten, with moderate ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries likely to be rolled in a preselection by a man seen by some as a youthful Tony Abbott wannabe.
Local ACT Liberal leader Zed Seselja yesterday ended months of claiming he wouldn’t challenge Humphries for the party’s number one ACT Senate spot by standing down to contest Senate preselection on February 23. The ACT elects two senators for three-year terms; the first seat will likely go to Labor’s Kate Lundy while the second will go to the Liberals or the Greens.
ACT Liberal circles are abuzz at the Seselja raid, and almost all party insiders think he’ll have the numbers to roll Humphries. That’s likely to mean one less bum on a seat for Liberal moderates in the Senate, and one more conservative one.
Seselja is a 35-year-old Right-leaning Catholic who pulled in a surprisingly strong result in last year’s ACT election and has a solid following in the territory’s party branches, which are Right-leaning and dominated by a religious power clique. But Humphries won’t go down without a fight, and Seselja’s raid on a sitting senator has annoyed some?—?particularly moderates?—?within the federal party. Seselja and Humphries met in secret to discuss the challenge on Sunday night.
“Gary’s really disappointed,” an insider told Crikey. “It’s going to get nasty. Gary’s a fighter, he’s a career politician and I can assure you he’s not going to walk away. He’s in the fight of his political life.”
Humphries has sat in the Senate since 2003. He famously became the first Liberal senator to cross the floor in the life of the Howard government, when he voted with the then-opposition in 2006 to defend the right of the ACT Parliament to enact same-s-x union laws. Humphries has also been relatively outspoken on the impact on Canberra of the Liberals’ proposed sweeping cuts to the federal public service. Seselja is seen as being less likely to depart from the party line than Humphries; he’s an admirer of Abbott.
Abbott yesterday supported Humphries in the preselection stoush, telling Fairfax: “As a former chief minister, Gary has been an outstanding advocate for the ACT and contributor to my shadow ministry. He has my support.”
However, a federal Liberal insider told Crikey Abbott had to publicly side with Humphries because of the drama over Julia Gillard’s “captain’s pick” of Nova Peris against sitting NT Labor Senator Trish Crossin. The source speculated Abbott was unlikely to seriously intervene to help Humphries.