Moderate to tackle Seselja in Libs’ preselection as election fallout continues

Ian Bushnell 8 April 2021 36
Senator Zed Seselja

Senator Zed Seselja on the campaign trail during last year’s Federal election campaign. Photo: File.

A couple of party moderates are lining up for the Liberals’ preselection contest on 22 November, but sitting Senator Zed Seselja is not likely to be troubled, especially with the Right dominating the dwindling number of members eligible to vote.

Former naval officer and current Department of Defence employee Sam Fairall-Lee will nominate for the No 1 position, taking on Senator Seselja, and recent Gininnderra candidate Kacey Lam will pursue the No 2 position on the Senate ballot paper.

Senator Seselja’s right-wing followers have dominated the party since he ousted moderate Gary Humphries in a bitter preselection battle in 2013, and some see this as a rushed contest so the Senator can secure his position before any serious challenge can be organised.

It is believed Mr Fairall-Lee has the backing of Mr Humphries, who has been outspoken about the election loss, while Ms Lam is a strong supporter of new ACT leader Elizabeth Lee.

A combination of COVID-19 and falling membership means that there are few people actually qualified to vote in the preselection.

Under Liberal preselection rules, 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.

The last chance to qualify will be the Kurrajong branch, with the rolls closing on Friday when nominations close.

The number of party members has been falling steadily over the years. In 2002, about 750 members voted in Mr Humphries’ preselection, and by the time Senator Seselja launched his controversial bid to replace him, the number of qualified preselectors was just 198 in the first vote and 306 in the re-run.

READ MORE: Liberals spring Senate preselection vote

The coming vote is still expected to involve fewer than that, although Mr Fairall-Lee’s candidacy is expected to attract more members than would have previously bothered.

It is believed many party members have since drifted away, part of a malaise that has contributed to the Liberals’ recent poor showing in local outings.

The party’s AGM will immediately follow the preselection contest on Sunday and offers a chance to change office bearers.

It is believed that James Daniels, who ran in Brindabella, will challenge current division president John Cziesla, and it will be a test of whether there is any appetite for change in the party after the disastrous election defeat.

There is party anger directed at campaign architect Josh Manuatu, whose efforts have been defended by former leader Alistair Coe, but the Right controls the numbers.

There are also reports that a devastated Mr Coe, who was once touted as coveting senator Seselja’s Senate spot, may leave politics in the next 12 months.

There is no word on when the review into the ACT election performance will be handed down, with some saying it may not be until the New Year.

There are questions around whether it will get to the bottom of the loss, with suggestions that it will pursue a narrow path without apportioning blame, except to argue the pandemic made it difficult to challenge Labor’s incumbency.

Some do not believe that former John Howard adviser Grahame Morris and retired MLA Vicki Dunne are the right people to sit in judgment on the party’s performance.

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36 Responses to Moderate to tackle Seselja in Libs’ preselection as election fallout continues
Deb Rollings Deb Rollings 3:46 pm 10 Nov 20

Dump Zed

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:56 am 10 Nov 20

I am a “moderate” and I know Zed personally. He isn’t a “far-right bigot” to me and a lot of other people. All you people who are attacking him relentlessly should get a hobby because no one cares what you think or say nor will they be influenced to change their voting choice in the same way as you will never vote away from who you are told to vote for.

    Sol Sol 1:19 pm 10 Nov 20

    Yep the Canberra Liberals have just thrived under his control and keep winning local elections with their massive pool of talent that they welcome and don’t feel threatened by at all..

    Oh wait..

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:04 pm 10 Nov 20

    When Zed was leader of the the Canberra Liberals in his final election year the Libs polled more votes that any other party. He then went into Federal politics and looked what happened under his successors.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:30 am 11 Nov 20

    To be fair, the last time Zed led the local party in an election they gained seats from 6 to 8, the equal of the ALP at the time who fell over the line with the help of the 1 Green.

    He’s since won the Senate seat at every opportunity despite the Greens claiming they were going to take it at each election.

    pink little birdie pink little birdie 2:22 pm 10 Nov 20

    regardless of his personal stance on issues it’s more the fact he was unable to put them aside and represent the ACT. For instance not voting in the marriage equality vote because he couldn’t when the ACT voted strongly in favour of it. Leaving the ACT unrepresented in the senate for that vote was astonishingly poor form – (Gallagher was with her kid who was having surgery).

    It seems that all the people who know him personally think he’s great – but they only people I know who know him are from the church that he attends.
    Personally he can be a great bloke but he’s not doing his job.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:06 pm 10 Nov 20

    I don’t attend his church or any other one but hey, let’s smear Christianity too while we are hot.

chewy14 chewy14 9:21 am 10 Nov 20

No matter what you think of Zed, the biggest chance the Greens would have of winning this Senate seat is if the Liberals replaced him with a relative unknown.

The only way Zed is going somewhere is if another high profile candidate was available to replace him.

    Sol Sol 1:15 pm 10 Nov 20

    That’s why there are constant rumours of Zed suffocating the party to stop this happening.

Pamela Berriman Pamela Berriman 8:18 am 10 Nov 20

If you've got a problem with Zed, join the Liberals (if you're not already a member) and vote against him in the preselections. Or stand yourself.

Bek Clark Bek Clark 11:42 pm 09 Nov 20

What exactly has he done for the ACT? I’ll wait...

Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 7:44 pm 09 Nov 20

Excellent! This man does not represent this progressive city.

Sol Sol 7:41 pm 09 Nov 20

The party membership is intentionally withered down, easier to control that way. The hard right will keep control and nothing will change. Cziezla is skilled at manipulating the rules in their favour and no doubt new or any returning member applications, except for Zed loyalists, have been delayed until after the preselection and AGM where they can all blame Covid and ignore any criticism.

The Canberra Liberals are utterly unelectable. All they care about is Zed’s safe senate seat, who does nothing except fight against Canberra’s interest in the name of his cooked views:

Jason Ezra Jason Ezra 7:30 pm 09 Nov 20

‘by the time Senator Seselja launched his controversial bid to replace him, the number of qualified preselectors was just 198 in the first vote and 306 in the re-run.

The coming vote is still expected to involve fewer than that...’

In other words about 300 people in the ACT are making the decision about who one of our Senators is to represent the 450,000 odd Canberrans.

Perverse isn’t it?

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 7:45 pm 09 Nov 20

    Jason Ezra as Keating said senators are ‘unrepresentative swill’

    David Malcolm David Malcolm 8:04 pm 09 Nov 20

    Jason Ezra Join the libs and vote.

    Jason Ezra Jason Ezra 8:07 pm 09 Nov 20

    David Malcolm I’m too moderate. I don’t support conversion therapy so I’d feel out of place.

    David Malcolm David Malcolm 8:31 pm 09 Nov 20

    Jason Ezra don’t complain then.

    Jason Ezra Jason Ezra 8:37 pm 09 Nov 20

    David Malcolm if you haven’t noticed the moderates in the Liberals are complaining precisely because of the extremists running the party...

    Jason Ezra Jason Ezra 9:21 pm 09 Nov 20

    James Daniels anyone trying to use the Law Society as a fig leaf to defend their bigotry should be ashamed. Carry on.

    Jason Ezra Jason Ezra 8:13 am 10 Nov 20

    Anne O'Hara join a party dominated by people who oppose my viewpoints on most issues and fight an endless war with them to change things? No thanks.

Karen Porter Karen Porter 7:18 pm 09 Nov 20

Zed needs to go back to his church and leave the government alone

Bethany Williams Bethany Williams 7:05 pm 09 Nov 20

Zed Seselja’s priorities are himself, and himself. He’s a dreadful representative for Canberra. If Canberra is going to elect a Liberal in the Senate, can we PLEASE have one who actually represents the values of his constituents? Canberra is NOT a conservative, right-wing, ultra religious place. We should not have representatives who are.

Charles Godworth Charles Godworth 6:59 pm 09 Nov 20

It's a shame he has such control over the party. There are some really talented individuals within the local membership who bubble underneath the surface and who are not part of the religious right who would run rings around him

    Karen Porter Karen Porter 7:18 pm 09 Nov 20

    Charles Godworth he needs to go

    Charles Godworth Charles Godworth 7:20 pm 09 Nov 20

    Kazz Porter Cant agree more. But sometimes the best people to represent the party are blocked simply by the numbers of the factions

David Perkins David Perkins 6:49 pm 09 Nov 20

Zed the Backstabber has form for plotting against moderate Liberals. He is a right wing reactionary and totally out of step with the Canberra electorate.

Paul Leins Paul Leins 6:21 pm 09 Nov 20

Party room golden boy who doesn't actually give a crap about his constituents.

    Nicole McGuire Nicole McGuire 6:39 pm 09 Nov 20

    Paul Leins well said

    Ken Owers Ken Owers 6:44 pm 09 Nov 20

    Paul Leins couldn't put it better myself.

    Robert Hawes Robert Hawes 10:23 pm 09 Nov 20

    Paul Leins I do not see why he should. He is in a safe seat. The only things that can remove him are

    1. His own party

    2. Himself.

    Paul Leins Paul Leins 10:42 pm 09 Nov 20

    Robert Hawes oh I don't know. Maybe there's the whole democracy thing? You know, representative government?

    Beth Mansfield Beth Mansfield 10:58 pm 09 Nov 20

    Paul Leins whoactivelu dislikes us and thinks he knows better than us because of some voice from the sky heard 2000 years ago.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 3:32 pm 10 Nov 20

    Anne O'Hara None of the others are in government though. If the memb er is in government, you'd expect them to stick up for the people they represent, but often Zed just criticies the ACt government instead for political reasons and then turns up when a new road is being built somewhere nearby. He then votes against what the ACT voted for in the SSM ballot as well.

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