22 September 2023

Canberra Libs already arguing over preselections for next year

| Chris Johnson
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flag poles outside the Legislative Assembly

Canberra Liberals are already jostling for Assembly preselection. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Canberra Liberals have begun fighting among themselves as the jostling for preselection gets underway for next year’s Assembly election.

But with party bosses insisting preselections won’t occur until February next year, some potential candidates feel at a disadvantage.

In a recent newsletter to ACT division members, Canberra Liberals president John Cziesla outlined the preselection schedule.

“Management committee has resolved that preselection for the 2024 Assembly election will take place on the following dates for each electorate:

Ginninderra – Monday 5 February 2024

Yerrabi – Tuesday, 6 February 2024

Kurrajong – Wednesday, 7 February 2024

Murrumbidgee – Tuesday 13 February 2024

Brindabella – Wednesday 14 February 2024

“Formal preselection notices will be sent in mid-December 2023,” he wrote.

“Management committee has also resolved to hold the preselection for ACT Senate seats for the next federal election between mid-March 2024 and the end of April 2024.”

The Assembly dates are bad news for some who believe the closeness of preselection to the October election will give incumbent Liberal MLAs an advantage over wannabes. This is despite the election being a full eight months after preselections take place.

Potential candidates, who won’t know if the party will endorse them until February, will have far less time and resources for their campaigns than those incumbents who can already safely expect to be preselected.

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Their dilemma has led to some potential candidates already ‘campaigning’ despite not yet being endorsed as candidates by the party.

Posters in public, without party endorsements, can now be seen of people wanting to be elected.

Some are personally authorised but have colours similar to that of the Liberal Party.

In the ACT’s Hare-Clark electoral system, candidates vie for votes in the 25-seat Assembly, campaigning not just against other parties but candidates from their own side of politics.

That makes preselection contests fierce, particularly when incumbents have the upper hand.

One concern for potential candidates is the restriction placed on political spending.

All Assembly candidates in the ACT have a capped spending amount that kicks in on 1 January in the year of an election.

Parties can and often do further cap the amount a candidate can spend.

If they don’t know until February if they are preselected, candidates won’t have much time to use that money to mount a thorough campaign.

Neither will they be afforded as much time to have policy input for the campaign.

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On the face of it, incumbents seeking re-election won’t have as many internal barriers.

“Potential candidates see it as a way the party is helping incumbent MLAs keep their seats,” one party source told Region.

“If I were a bookie, I’d probably write the other potentials off today.”

But another party contact said the disgruntlement came from a small cohort wanting more time for their preferred candidates.

“Let’s face it, February to October is still a long time to mount a campaign,” they said.

Region sought a statement from Mr Cziesla who declined to comment, other than pointing out that internal party processes are not discussed.

Region understands, however, that the party’s management committee unanimously endorsed the preselection timeline.

Election policy is determined by the current Canberra Liberals shadow cabinet and divisional policy council, with all members able to have input into policy discussions.

Historically, Liberal candidates in each electoral cycle who spent under the cap allocated to them as a candidate have been successfully elected, including non-incumbents.

Region also understands that potential candidates have been reminded of the applicable rules regarding campaign materials.

Traditionally, the Liberal Party claims all candidates have the same amount of time to prepare materials as this is coordinated at the party level.

Theoretically, incumbents would have a minimal advantage as materials they already have are meant to be included in the capped period.

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This latest decision by the boys and the party’s head honchos, Jeremy Hanson and John Cziesla shows the direness of the Canberra liberals prospects at the next Territory election in 2024. Members of the party are under no illusions that the Canberra Liberals will win the next election. The party’s seventh loss in over two decades.
Membership has been declining over a number of years. Members have been deserting the party in droves. As with the previous two elections, the party is finding it difficult to attract candidates in each of its seats. Many of the candidates who will be putting their hands up were unsuccessful contenders at the previous election or ran for the party in the Federal election. These candidates are from extremely conservative backgrounds, recruited to the party by Zed Seselja and Alistair Coe. They have already started their campaigning behind the scenes.
Insiders believe that the party may only return one candidate in each seat at the election. The party is now in damage control, doing its best not to suffer an even greater humiliation than it did at the previous two elections. Liberal MLA Nicole Lawder will be retiring I hear. Jeremy has been in the Assembly for way too long and will be returning to fight it out. Each of the other uninspiring MLAs will be returning too, battling for himself/herself to be returned.
Any delays in party preselections will assist them in their cause. Any behind the scenes skullduggery or undermining will be spearheaded by Jeremy Hanson.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Lee is nowhere to be seen!

Oh yes I agree Jane Kennedy! I look forward to RiotAct publishing an article on how Labor and the Greens prepare for elections.

I know Labor certainly does it a bit more efficiently and rapidly than the Liberals. Labor will have had close to a 5 months start by the time the Liberals get off their lazy backsides and hold their preselections.

Labor respects all of its candidates and takes its preselections and elections seriously!

Article starts out saying they are fighting but outlines the current timeline and process. Nothing is given in the way of fighting. Seems like a beat up.

In a political party wouldn’t you want to earn additional seats and not just replace the current MLAs?

Current party is Greens Labor. So much infighting its two completely different parties.
How is the ban on pokies and gambling going for the greens? they completely abandoned their policies to side with Labor

The Greens did not abandon their policies on pokey reforms to side with Labor. Both Labor and the Greens negotiated a better deal to tackle gambling addiction in the ACT. Gambling had been promoted by Clubs and pubs in the ACT for way too long. Despite a very aggressive campaign by the Liberals, clubs and gambling proponents during the 2016 campaign, the election results spoke for themselves. The policies are working and change is ongoing. The Ainslie football club, in only the last week, announced that they are using the reforms to develop and build more housing and a child care centre on their extensive land holdings in the middle of Canberra.

The gambling reforms were constantly undermined and ridiculed by the Canberra Liberals. Particularly then speaker Vicki Dunne, Jeremy Hanson and Mark Parton. Mr Parton described gambling addiction as no more serious than being addicted to chocolate!!

Weren’t the greens in a state of shock when they realised that ACT had invested in gambling stocks? They sure asked the question of why.

“The Ainslie football club, in only the last week, announced that they are using the reforms to develop and build more housing”

Ah yes, losing already limited community and recreational land for developers to profit off more high density apartments. What a great outcome for the community. LOL.

Well you can look at any way you like and decide for yourself chewy. You can also ridicule and have LOL’s as you often claim you are doing with others opinions you don’t agree with or don’t understand.

As for me, any government policies that increases housing supply, reduces gambling and tackles addiction has my support!

ACT invested in gambling stocks gooterz?

All clubs and pubs in the ACT were subject to the same reforms which were taken to the election. The reforms were introduced by Labor and supported by the Greens. This was despite determined efforts by the Canberra Liberals and ClubsACT to undermine and jettison the reforms.

As I have said previously, any reforms that produce results and reduce gambling addiction have my support.

You missed the bit where their policy also led to a reduction in scarce inner city community facilities and recreational land in the one apparently “good” example you could come up with.

So yes, that’s what you support, in these policies that are apparently “working”.

Jack. The greens want to ban policial donations from property developers. They also want to ban donations from gambling entities from going to polical parties.

Thats the entire donation base for ACT Labor.

ACT Insurance Authority has about 350,000,000 worth of investments.
Apparently there is no policy that these aren’t non-gambling. Nor any of the other ACT held investments.

While you say its raised by the libs. The greens can’t say they are unhappy because they always take one for their Labor team. They just fill in the numbers and don’t upset the apple cart. That doesn’t mean they agree or are happy.

Liberals don’t claim that everyone will have the same vote or same wishes. They represent different parts of the ACT.
When you vote Labor, someone else in some other part of town decides what your local member belives in. How democratic.

Then we have this hit piece claiming that it only affects one side. Proof that there are differences in Libs isn’t a counter proof that this also doesn’t apply to Labor.

I wonder people on riotact are undercover MLAs?

Where did political donations come into the conversation gooterz?

Despite your rant, I have noticed from the regular donation disclosures published in local media how well the squeaky clean Liberals do from ClubsACT, business and the property industry. But that is another story.

I do agree with the Greens however, there should be a total review and overhaul of the political donations system.

I do note your final comment. Judging from some of the rather distasteful comments I have read over the past few days, some directed at me, I wonder how much of it comes from Liberal Party staffers or those obnoxious Young Liberals!

Liberal Party preselections taking place in February 2024? Really February 2024?

With Jeremy Hanson and party president John Cziesla calling the shots who would be surprised.

What a bunch of plodders!

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