2 September 2022

Petition on hold as Liberal factions hold peace talks

| Ian Bushnell
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Gary Humphries

Liberal Party figure and former senator Gary Humphries is trying to negotiate a way through the party’s differences. Photo: Public Domain.

A petition calling for the heads of local Liberal Party officials in the wake of the Federal election loss is on hold as the opposing factions work towards a negotiated path to reform.

In July, the so-called moderate faction, the Menzies Group, wrote to Liberal supporters urging them to back the petition, which calls for a meeting of the Divisional Council to consider a motion demanding the resignation of the five members of the Management Committee.

The letter, signed by Cathie Humphries, wife of ousted former senator Gary Humphries, said the election result was the most profound rejection of the Liberal Party in a generation, with the Senate loss of right-wing power broker Zed Seselja particularly painful.

It said the result pointed to deeper problems in the ACT Division, coming after the 2020 Legislative Assembly rout.

“We believe that only a wholesale cleaning out of the Management Committee will allow for the new direction, which is essential if we are to reverse this spiral into failure,” the letter said.

But it appears the Menzies Group has changed tack and is now pursuing talks about reform, including increasing the representation of moderates on the Management Committee.

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Mr Humphries, who is overseas until October, confirmed that the Group had collected the necessary number of signatures to bring about a special meeting of the Canberra Liberals Divisional Council.

“However, discussions have commenced between the Group and other members of the division about options for future reform, and in those circumstances, the petition is on hold,” he said.

It is believed the motion in the petition could have been moved at a Divisional Council meeting in August, but in any case, all party positions are up for re-election at the November AGM as per the party’s constitution.

It is believed Mr Humphries would like to be president, but some think he has too much baggage, and current President John Cziesla wants to stay in the position.

The Menzies Group is negotiating with the so-called ‘pragmatic Right’, including former MLA Candice Burch and Gerry Wheeler, separate from the Seselja-led Right, which has dominated the Canberra Liberals for a decade.

It is believed Mr Humphries has been unable to secure a commitment from the pragmatic Right to support the petition.

But not all are happy with this strategy and fear that while the moderates might get a few seats on the Management Committee, the same people will end up running the party.

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Some say the pragmatic Right’s aim is to get one of their own through pre-selection to try to win back the Senate seat from Independent David Pocock.

There is also concern about Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee’s inability or unwillingness to use her authority to demand change, and rumours persist of the Right’s Jeremy Hanson still wanting to be Leader again.

Some fear without change the party is vulnerable to a Pocock-style community independents push at the 2024 election.

The Menzies Group made submissions to the party’s review of the Federal election loss, which closed in mid-August.

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HiddenDragon8:59 pm 04 Sep 22

The ACT Liberals need to get the internal stuff settled down pronto and get on with developing and releasing policies which can withstand the inevitable disinformation and scare campaigns which will be thrown at them.

Cost of living policies will be important and that will mean summoning up the intestinal fortitude to explain clearly how they will be paid for rather than pretending that extra revenue will magically appear through a higher rate of growth in the ACT economy.

In recent years, state Labor governments (e.g. in WA and SA) have come to power with an explicit intention to cut public sector spending in areas other than front-line service delivery – the ACT Liberals should look closely at those examples and plan and promise accordingly.

Mike of Canberra12:55 pm 04 Sep 22

Let’s get a few things straight. First, the ACT is led by a hard-left government, with the leftist Barr dragged out to the extremes by his extreme-left Green coalition colleagues. This government clearly doesn’t know how to manage money, because it spends it all on outdated tram technology while allowing our major public hospital to go to rack and ruin, our urban infrastructure to crumble around us and beneath our feet, our public school system to become a shambles and is operating possibly the most ruinous public housing program in Australia. You would think Barr and Rattenbury would be the issue wouldn’t you? But no, here in navel gazing Canberra all we can seem to think about is the unlamented Zed, no longer a senator, and some alleged power struggle within the Canberra Liberals. For my money, the Libs have finally got a centrist leader who can take them to victory provided the party itself gets its act together. There’s two years to the next election, more than enough time for these issues to be resolved. In the meantime, let’s think about what we really have to lose: only the current talentless mob of charlatans posing as a government, easily the worst state or territory government in Australia (and that’s a crowded field). Time for us to look ahead and resolve to vote for change in 2024 and for the Canberra Liberals to facilitate us in that quest. Please Canberra Liberals, get it together – we really need you.

Let’s get a few things straight Mike of Canberra. This is an opinion piece about the shortcomings of the Canberra Liberals, its leader Elizabeth Lee and its management committee. It’s not about Labor! If you haven’t already noticed your side has been in opposition for over 21 years, broken down that’s 6 elections! Get your own side in order!!

Mike of Canberra2:14 pm 04 Sep 22

Jack, first, I’m a swinging voter but one who sees absolute no value in Canberrans returning this tired old hubristic government. Second, Seselja is old news – he’s lost his Senate seat (good riddance) and I doubt he’ll be back. Third, what matters with the Canberra Libs (and yes, they’ve wasted too much time and too many elections with their internal squabbles) is how prepared they are to contest the next election (due in October 2024 note). It seems to me that the present convulsions as reported in this article are an almost inevitable part of the process of cleaning out the deadwood and making themselves election-ready. If you really think the best outcome for Canberra is a continuation of the current government, then I’d suggest you consult an optometrist to restore vision in both your eyes. And that’s getting a few things straight Jack. Got anything else?

Mike of Canberra if you think the best outcome for Canberra is a continuation of this current and tired old opposition Liberal party (21 years and 6 elections in opposition and counting) without the party finally facing the inevitable prospect that they will never be electable, I suggest you consult an optometrist to restore vision in both eyes! Your party shouldn’t rely on a media report to probe that the party needs to clear out its deadwood (Lee, Hanson, Kikkert, Cain, all of them really). It is clear that your party may never be election-ready!

You can fall off your chair and roll around in hysterics at your perceptions of Labor as much as you like kenbebrens. The fact is your side is the laughing stock! ACT Labor has been voted into govt for the last 6 elections (21 years) while your side, now under its 6th leader Elizabeth Lee, continues to languish in the background trying to be relevant!! How funny!

Sorry, Liberals, but any political party in which Candice Burch holds any sway is doomed. I remember her brief tenure in the Assembly as an embarrassement (for her and her party). I was in her electorate, but I don’t remember one thing she ever achieved for us. In the chamber, she never had anything sensible to contribute, she spent most of her time either on her phone, shouting silly interjections or giggling (yes, really) and she came across as a total airhead. She might well not be an airhead but if she isn’t it’s to be hoped that she’s grown up in the past few years and has realised that politics is for grownups.

Did you see Candice and her obnoxious supporters out campaigning during the last election? What a bunch of misfits! These very unlikeable individuals without any policy to put forward except to bag and put down their opponents. An extremely unprofessional and bad look for a team wanting to win a seat!

The illiberal party continues to disappoint. Instead of representing middle Australian business owners and professionals they have become beholden to the culture warriors such as alt right Zed and his fellow travellers. Menzies would be cartwheeling in his grave knowing his beloved party had forgotten about being the party of progress for all and has become the party of trumpian libertarian anarchy. Canberra needs an alternative to reign in the excesses of the Barr ALP/Greens government.

Oh who are you people!!! Excesses of the Barr/ALP Greens govt? The ALP has now been in power in the ACT for 21 years and aren’t doing too badly! Labor also saw its ACT Senator re-elected at the last ACT election unlike the Libs. What a joke! ACT labor has steered the city through a pandemic no thanks to the Fed and ACT Libs, built a bigger hospital, are getting on with building a new CIT in Woden, an extended light rail transport system to take us into the future and are implementing progressive policies on EV uptake!! This is just a few of ACT Labor’s policies. All this progress while the Canberra Libs and Elizabeth Lee sit idly by whingeing from the sidelines!

Why is it each leftward move from the Liberals ends in disaster then, like Vic, WA and the left faction in May? There is very little far right in the Liberals, who are profoundly further left than ten years ago, and certainly no ‘libertarian anarchy’, quite the opposite in fact.

Maybe it would help the media weren’t stenographers for Labor and reported things like the budget papers showing the money from selling off pubic housing got put into the light rail, then it would make a difference.

Jack D.
I think a lot of people would be falling off their chairs in hysterics reading your analysis that the ACT Labor/Greens are….”getting on with building a new CIT in Woden, an extended light rail transport system to take us into the future…..”
We’re about to have 4 years of traffic gridlock with 2A and spend billions getting LR to Woden; all for an inferior transport system maxed out at 70kph.
Our hospital waiting times are the worst in the country, and so on.

The left leaning Canberra are unlikely to elect a majority Liberal Government, meaning the Libs don’t attract quality talent and without the threat of electoral defeat, the standard of the Government doesn’t need to be too high.

Jack, I suspect most readers would acknowledge that Andrew Barr is the only real strength of the Government. There are no alternate leaders.

Is this a joke knight37? And pubic housing?

Now I wish I had of been there to see the meetings supporters beginning to realise that the Liberals will never win power in ACT unless they follow the moderate way. The Liberals were never to be hard right.

I have been a member for a long time hanging in by my finger nails hoping that eventually the middle ground will grow stronger & as word travels they like myself will return.

To sit & watch people come into the party who should never have been able to turn it with warped beliefs.

Yes “dsact, Menzies would be cartwheeling in his grave knowing his beloved party had forgotten about being the party of progress for all and has become the party of trumpian libertarian anarchy.”

Let’s get this straight! A Liberal party petition of moderates collected the necessary signatures to clean out the party’s far right management committee following the most profound rejection of the party at a Federal and Territory election in a generation!! Current ACT president John Cziesla who has led the demise as party president is refusing to step down and the moderates have capitulated! Elizabeth Lee local Liberal leader is too weak and has no authority. How sad for democracy in this proud city!!!

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