The Liberal Party’s ACT division has wasted no time moving on from the local election loss to advise members of its preselection vote for Senate candidates.
In an email to members, the party says the preselection will be held on 22 November at 2:00 pm at Canberra Southern Cross Club in Woden.
Some party members such as former Liberal president Gary Kent are calling the preselection premature, claiming the controlling Right faction is rushing to secure its candidates before losing control of the division as the party roils after the ACT election loss.
”An early preselection in these circumstances is totally unprecedented and very unfair,” he said.
Sitting Senator and Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters Zed Seselja is likely to be easily preselected, despite speculation that Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe would challenge if the party lost the ACT election.
The 2013 preselection in which Senator Seselja rolled sitting Senator Gary Humphries earned infamy for the way it was conducted and its short notice, which meant many members could not vote because they had not attended enough branch meetings.
The email lays out the timetable and eligibility to vote, providing meeting dates for those who need to attend to acquire voting rights.
A ‘Voting Member’ must be a financial member of the Party, have been a member for at least three months prior to Thursday, 12 November when nominations close, and must have attended a branch meeting between 2 February and 12 November, and signed an attendance sheet.
Those who have not attended a quorate branch meeting within the last six months can attend the Brindabella Electorate Branch Meeting at 6:45 pm on 28 October at the Lanyon Vikings Club, and the Kurrajong Electorate Branch Meeting at 6:30 pm on 11 November at the Canberra Deakin Football Club.
The email says further meetings may be advised.
”Please note that attendance at Divisional Council Meetings and Divisional Policy Conventions does not qualify you as a voting member, you must attend a meeting of an Electorate Branch, Women’s Council or Young Liberals,” it says.
An unsuccessful candidate for Ginninderra in the ACT election, Robert Gunning, was Senator Seselja’s running mate last year.
Meanwhile, the Greens are hoping to capitalise on their recent success by seeking out a high-profile candidate from outside the party to take on Senator Seselja.
They have attempted to dislodge Senator Seselja at the last two elections but have not been able to make inroads into the Liberal vote.
But they believe the increased Green vote in the ACT election shows a candidate with high-name recognition could attract Liberal voters and genuinely threaten Senator Seselja.
The earliest date for simultaneous House of Representatives and half-Senate elections is Saturday, 7 August 2021, and the latest is 21 May 2022. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated that he prefers the Parliament to run its full term.