1 November 2022

Liberal Party members rebuff reform candidates at AGM

| Ian Bushnell
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Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee and then Senator Zed Seselja on the federal campaign trail with other party candidates Nathan Kuster, Jane Hiatt and Slade Minson. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The Right has maintained its grip on the Canberra Liberals organisation, brushing off challenges to key positions from reformed-minded candidates at last night’s (26 October) Annual General Meeting.

Eligible party members returned President John Czielsa convincingly, with challenger Michael Keating losing by about 100 votes.

Mr Cziesla is aligned with the Hard Right or Zed Seselja faction, and has been party president since 2017, overseeing the 2020 ACT and 2022 federal losses.

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The reformist Menzies Group-backed candidates for Treasurer and Policy Committee Chair also fell short.

James Daniels came within about 15 votes of ousting longstanding Treasurer Jimmy Kiploks, while Sam Fairall-Lee lost to Liam Develin.

Menzies Group candidates and Mr Keating had been given little hope of defeating their Right opponents, many of whom go back to the Seselja coup against then-senator Gary Humphries in 2013.

Earlier in the year, the Humphries-back Menzies Group launched a petition calling for a clean-out of the positions to put the party back on an electable path after May’s disastrous federal election result in which sitting senator Zed Seselja fell to Independent David Pocock.

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The petition attracted sufficient numbers but the group appeared to soften its position in an attempt to negotiate some change with the so-called Pragmatic Right led by Gerry Wheeler, which had fallen out with the Seselja faction.

The Menzies Group supported the Pragmatic Right’s Candice Burch when she defeated the Seselja-backed Arthur Potter by a single vote for the Vice President’s casual vacancy at a branch meeting last month.

At the time, this was interpreted as a turning point for the party towards a more moderate and electable future.

The hope was that the Pragmatic Right would support Menzies Group candidates at the AGM, where Ms Burch stood unopposed as Vice-President.

But it seems Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee will head towards the 2024 Legislative Assembly elections with much the same organisational team that has presided over successive campaign losses and this year’s federal poll, which left the ACT without any Liberal representation in the Federal Parliament.

Ms Lee, a moderate, does not comment on internal party matters, but it is believed she wanted the party united with an election now just two years away.

She has denied saying she would quit if the infighting did not stop.

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A review into the federal campaign, led by former leader of the Liberal Party of Western Australia Dr Mike Nahan and former Victorian Liberal Senator Helen Kroger, is due to be released soon.

Mr Cziesla appeared unapologetic about the federal result in a leaked party email to members last May, blaming an uncritical media and a targeted, vicious and heavily funded campaign for the ousting of Mr Seselja.

It remains to be seen whether the party can put aside its differences and get fully behind Ms Lee and her Assembly team to prevent a seventh straight Labor victory in 2024.

By then, Labor will have been in power for 23 years.

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The mantra of the luna right Liberals ….”we have the right policies it’s just that the voters are too stupid to understand them…”

I generally agree with the sentiments being expressed here. Canberra needs an effective opposition that will offer accountability and a plausible alternative government. The anarchists in charge like Zed will confine the Liberal party to an almost eternity of opposition. It means the Labor/Greens coalition will reign unencumbered or unworried for a long time to come.

To make things worse the Federal Party seems to have been oblivious to the message sent to hem a the last election and are turning harder right giving Albo a free hand. While in my humble opinion the ALP have done a good job so far they cannot afford to grow a head of hubris because of a poorly positioned out of touch opposition.

Australian democracy deserves better.

I was initially feeling pleased about the liberal hard right stupidity cementing a Labor/Green victory in 2 years but on reflection it really isn’t good for democracy. I’d much rather Labor/Greens were being pushed and having to work for re-election. Government ministers don’t even bother to answer correspondence from constituents. Zed and his supporters are largely irrelevant.

No matter what side of politics one stands on, this current situation in the Canberra Liberals affects us all. Canberra hasn’t had an effective opposition in the ACT for over 20 years. The Canberra Liberals have just recently lost their only federal representative for the first time in 50 years. The party has become a spent force thanks to Zed, Alistair, John Csiezla, the Young Liberals and all of their enablers. The ultra-conservatives have hijacked the party and now call themselves Liberal. The local party in the Assembly is dominated by ultra-conservatives pushing their intolerant views on education and law, just to name a few. Quite frankly, I think the Liberals will be gone next ACT election!!

The Canberra Liberals have quite deliberately ensured their continuation in opposition. They must enjoy it. The only hope for those who actually want to govern and to provide real choice for voters would be to form a new party. A Humphries/Stanhope joint ticket just might dislodge the Barr/Rattenbury monolith.

Humphries/Stanhope!! Oh for goodness sake!!

anthonypesec3:35 pm 27 Oct 22

What’s that definition of insanity again?

I’m still undecided as to whether these guys are genuinely incompetent or deliberately want to stay in opposition where it’s easier to collect a salary.

Capital Retro4:09 pm 27 Oct 22

Insanity isn’t a problem in political parties in opposition but when they are in power like the Greens are in the ACT, it’s a major problem. How about you focus on them, for a change?

Poor CR you’re rather sensitive to any criticism of the Canberra Liberals. It seems Canberra voters don’t see the Greens as a major problem like you do. This was reflected in the last ACT election with the Greens increasing their vote by 4% and their representation by four. Not a bad result! They also knocked out two high profile Liberals in the process. Current leader Elizabeth Lee barely got over the line. She couldn’t even reach a quota with preferences. Not to mention the recent federal election and the party’s only representative, Zed Seselja losing his senate seat. This is the first time a Liberal senator has lost his seat in 50 years in the ACT. The party has been taken over by the right-wing conservatives and is in disarray. All we hear from the Canberra Liberals is mud slinging without any policy direction. The party has a lot of problems and needs to get its own house in order before it starts throwing mud at Labor and the Greens and constantly blaming the media for its problems!

“The party has a lot of problems and needs to get its own house in order before it starts throwing mud at Labor and the Greens and constantly blaming the media for its problems!”

How many Liberals slept with bikies whilst sitting on a joint law enforcement committee? Or bullied aboriginal elders? If the politician who committed these deeds was a white male, the media (lead by the Green cheerleaders the Canberra Times and the ABC) would’ve chased “him” out of parliament and out of town.

The Greens get the rub of the green (pun intended) when it comes to the media. They are never held accountable for their disgraceful actions and never called out for their hypocrisy.

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