30 November 2023

Cziesla to stay on as Liberal president as appeal launched, party members told

| Ian Bushnell
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Senior party sources said a pragmatic alliance of members across the party – not just the moderates – were fed up with losing elections and the management style and extreme views of the hard right. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

If reform-minded members of the Canberra Liberals thought that its ousting of party president John Cziesla last week was a new beginning for the party, it seems the battle is far from over.

An appeal has been lodged against the outcome of the presidential ballot in which the majority preferred an empty chair to Mr Cziesla continuing in the role.

The weekly update from outgoing divisional director Kieran Douglas to party members said Mr Cziesla will stay on as interim president until the matter is resolved.

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GoBoat Australia owner and former NSW party staffer Nick Tyrrell was to run against Mr Cziesla at the 21 November annual general meeting but withdrew at the last minute due to a family emergency.

Mr Cziesla’s supporters thought he should be returned unopposed, but according to others, party rules allowed for an empty chair to contest the ballot in a vote of confidence in the president.

The update said that after the AGM an appeal was lodged with the honorary general secretary under section 45(12) of the party constitution.

The outgoing Cziesla-controlled management committee then decided to establish an appeals subcommittee in accordance with Appendix 3 of the party constitution.

“The appeals subcommittee will make a final decision regarding the internal party ballot and members will be notified of the outcome when the appeal process has concluded,” party members were told.

GoBoat Australia founder Nick Tyrrell is still believed to want the party president’s role. Photo: GoBoat Australia.

The news may surprise party members who expected a new meeting to be called for a fresh vote to elect a president, which Mr Tyrrell is likely to contest.

In a message some members might find ironic, the update said it is important the party is unified and can focus solely on the task ahead in 2024.

“Our Territory election is only 325 days away and a federal election can be called anytime from late August next year,” the update said.

“Both campaigns will be tightly contested and require the support of all members if we are to achieve success.”

In another sign that the AGM row is not over, an email received by Region from a “senior party source” suggests that Mr Tyrrell withdrew on the night due to an internal investigation into the leaking of a party email list.

It said the empty chair vote was a scramble by the left due to the seriousness of this investigation.

The rancorous AGM was seen as a significant defeat for the party’s conservative forces led by Mr Cziesla, former senator Zed Seselja and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Hanson.

Many believed it was a turning point for the party, which has lost five ACT elections in a row and suffered the humiliating loss of a Senate seat in 2022.

Senior party sources said the management committee votes, which saw the old guard lose control, were driven by a pragmatic alliance of members across the party – not just the moderates – fed up with losing elections and the management style and extreme views of the hard right.

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Sources also said the results would free up Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee to get on with leading the party out of the wilderness.

One had said it was a solid repudiation of those in charge of the party in recent years.

But it seems Mr Cziesla and his supporters will not go meekly, continuing what is a bitter internal struggle for control of the party.

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Canberra has a population of close to 450,000 and this is the best the Canberra Liberals can offer ACT voters? An on the nose President who refuses to go and an empty chair that won the popular vote!

The blame for this shemozzle lies entirely with the Canberra Liberals’ right-wing leadership teams and their supporters who have voted for them and allowed the party to disintegrate to this level over two decades. Bill Stefaniak and Zed Seselja started the rot. They are still there but Jeremy Hanson, Alistair Coe and President John Cziesla took over the reigns and are their willing accomplices. With the loss of its only senate seat and a dwindling membership the party is unable to call itself Liberal. The party is unelectable!

The neocons have won and Canberra voters, the most educated and socially progressive in the country, are the losers!

What a surprise another story from Ian Bushnell about the Canberra Liberals but still nothing about the absolute debacle that is the ACT Labor pre selections, especially in Brindabella.

@Tom Philips
Perhaps because this is a serious issue for the chances of the Liberals succeeeding at next year’s election.
Until recently, most Canberrans would not have had a clue about John Cziesla and who he is. However the recent management debacle within the ACT Liberals has highlighted Cziesla’s alignment with Seselja and other hard right conservatives.
Should he succeed in retaining the presidency of the party it will be a severe blow for Elizabeth Lee’s chances next October, especially as she is already battling the spectre of the hard right lurking in the shadows and the concedrns that raises for ACT electors.

He appears to be suffering Trump-like delusions.

The difference being that, despite “sleepy Joe’s” shortcomings, not even Trump was defeated by an empty chair.

Ian De Landelles3:28 pm 01 Dec 23

It has long been a political truism that the party which can’t govern itself, is not fit to govern. Yet again the Canberra Liberals have proved how true this adage is.

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