Odd story in today’s CT, ostensibly about the ACT Liberals’ tilt at Canberra and Fraser in the next federal election, but really more about the leadership fights the local pollies are facing (story reproduced below).
At their annual general meeting this week Jim Murphy was denied a vote because he had not attended any meetings. His name was on the attendance sheet for a meeting of the northern branch but it was ruled he had not stayed long enough to qualify for a vote despite a precedent for this kind of thing set at a recent Young Liberals election.
The vote Mr Murphy was objecting to not being allowed to take part in was for the branch treasurer — an even split between one James Windle and one Donita Warne. Mrs Warne won on a draw-the-name-out-of-a-hat process.
Why is this so interesting in terms of the MLAs? Well, Mrs Warne is a Mulcahy supporter and Mr Windle a Smyth one.
I’m guessing Mr Murphy’s vote probably would have tipped the ballot in favour of Mr Windle. Is there foul play afoot in the local Liberal ranks?
As to the tilt at the House or Representatives, basically the ACT Liberals president, Gary Kent, said they’re going to contest the two seats at the election in 2007 (big surprise) and that he thinks they have a good chance of winning Canberra (well they’re never going to say “we’ll lose this for sure” are they?).
Libs believe Territory seat in reach
By Ben Doherty
ACT Liberals president Gary Kent believes, even before candidates are selected, that the ACT Liberals could win one or both of Canberra and Fraser at the next federal election.
But the war within Mr Kent’s party continues, with a heated dispute over voting rights at this week’s ACT Liberal Party annual general meeting.
Former finance director, 250 Club president and long-time party supporter Jim Murphy was denied a vote at the meeting because it was ruled he had not attended a meeting during the past six months.
Mr Murphy had attended a northern branch meeting, and signed the attendance sheet, but it was ruled he had not stayed long enough at the meeting to qualify. A precedent set at a recent Young Liberals election suggests signing an attendance sheet should be enough to qualify for a vote, but Mr Kent said the decision not to allow Mr Murphy to vote was correct.
Mr Murphy raised his objection to being denied a vote after the ballot for the position of division treasurer, which was split 34-34 between James Windle and Donita Warne.
A name draw saw Mrs Warne win the position.
The result has implications for the parliamentary arm of the ACT Liberals.
Mrs Warne is regarded as a supporter of new Member for Molonglo Richard Mulcahy, who is preparing to challenge for the party leadership against incumbent Brendan Smyth.
A spill was rumoured for December but the numbers in the seven-member parliamentary party are currently split four-three in favour of Mr Smyth, with no apparent avenue for a change.
Party sources say Mr Windle is a supporter of Mr Smyth.
In the other major ballot, Mr Kent was elected unopposed for a record-equalling sixth term as division president. He told the party faithful a [sic] electoral redistribution — which saw about 10,000 Fraser voters move into the Canberra electorate — had put the seat of Canberra within reach.
“The Liberal Party has held a House of Representative seat in the ACT previously, most recently by Brendan Smyth. We believe it can be done again.”
Mr Kent said preparations for the pre-selection process for both Canberra and Fraser were already under way, with pre-selections likely to be called open early in the new year. The next federal election is not due until 2007.
Historically, ACT seats have not been a hapy hunting ground for the Liberal Party, to the extent that one story, possibly apocryphal, quotes the prime minister saying of Canberra, “[it] looks like Wahroonga but votes like Cessnock”.
Only on two occasions has the Liberal Party held thr seat of Canberra since it was proclaimed in 1974, once by Mr Smyth in the by-election which followed Ros Kelly’s resignation over the sports-rorts affair, and by John Haslem who won two election in 1975 and 1977. The Liberal Party has never held Fraser.
Currently the Labor Party has a firm grip on both seats, Bob McMullan holds Fraser (63 per cent to 37 per cent, two party preferred), and Annette Ellis Canberra (60 per cent to 40 per cent).
Mr Kent told The Canberra Times, “We are going for two [seats], but we would be delighted to win one, and we think everything is falling into place for us to take Canberra.
“We had an excellent senate vote last time around, and we want to use that as a springboard into winning a seat in the House of Reps.”