3 October 2013

Gary Kent leaves the Liberal Party

| johnboy
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The ABC reports that the man who put Napoleon into “Napoleon Complex”, Gary Kent, has quit the Liberal Party because it’s just not fair:

He launched legal action in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal against his own party saying he was denied access to documents about the controversial preselection and the party’s financial situation.

In response the party launched disciplinary action against him.

On Wednesday night Mr Kent fronted a disciplinary hearing to respond to the charges where he resigned.

Mr Kent says he was not going to receive natural justice and says he has lost confidence in the party’s executive.

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Well no one else has addressed this, so I’ll give it a try. I’ve read the ABC & CT articles and generally refreshed myself on the events from early in the year.

Gary Kent, 20 year member of the party and long time president, spoke out about the shortcomings of the pre-selection process that saw Zed Seselja defeat Gary Humphries for the senate spot. At the meeting where his motion was considered 45% of the membership supported his concerns.

Now that we’re more than 6 months after the events, the management committee decided to discipline Gary Kent, obviously waiting until after the federal election was out of the way. Possibly also waiting until all potential dissenting voices on the committee had been pushed out. They accused him of criticising the management committee and distributing material to the members. Gary Kent complains about natural justice issues in the discipline process and quits the party.

My thoughts are as follows:
How can criticising the management committee be an offence? As a nation we believe in free speech.

How can distributing material to members be an offence, even if they didn’t want it? Political parties distribute unsolicited material to voters all the time. It smacks of a huge double standard. There’s also the point that 45% supported him, so it’s not like he was pursuing a fringe issue.

Seeing that Gary Kent was critical of the management committee and was pursuing the release of documents from them, how can that committee sit in judgement over him? It’s like a judge being accused of a crime and delaying that hearing while bringing their own accusations to bear and scheduling them for a speedy hearing. Then to cap it off that judge presides over his own complaint! Gary Kent’s natural justice concerns seem rather justified to me.

I want to see a change of government in the ACT, but I don’t see how the current crowd of faceless men in the Libs are going to achieve it. They seem more intent in marginalising a big chunk of their own membership so as to retain control of the party, instead of trying to reconcile after the divisive events from early in the year so as to do better in the future.

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