A prominent member of the ACT Young Liberals is facing disciplinary hearings for allegedly destroying former MLA Candice Burch’s corflutes during the election campaign, several senior sources have told Region Media.
Ms Burch lost her Kurrajong seat at the recent ACT election.
The Young Liberals are the affiliated youth wing of the Liberal Party of Australia while the Canberra Liberals are the party’s ACT branch. John Cziesla is the current president of the Canberra Liberals and Ben Dennehy is the president of the ACT Young Liberals.
A Canberra Liberals’ committee, chaired by Canberra Liberals’ Vice President and 2019 campaign manager Arthur Potter, is investigating the allegations.
Mr Dennehy currently works in Senator Zed Seselja’s electorate office. Region Media has contacted Mr Dennehy and Mr Cziesla for comment.
According to the Constitution of the Liberal Party of Australia, ACT Division, a member can be expelled from the Canberra Liberals if they have been disruptive to a Liberal Party election campaign, brought the Liberal Party into disrepute or acted in a manner disloyal to the Liberal Party.
If the committee finds that the member should be disciplined, they could be reprimanded, suspended for up to 12 months or expelled from the party.
Region Media has been told that a Kurrajong branch member asked Mr Cziesla if any disciplinary action is being undertaken by the party at a recent branch meeting.
Mr Cziesla has confirmed the party was looking into the allegations but remained elusive when asked if the Kurrajong branch would be updated on the investigation and the findings.
One member called the actions of some young Liberals unacceptable and said they warranted expulsion from the Party.
“My view is that we should be encouraging young women to get involved in politics. [Ms Burch] put herself out there and she was a pretty effective operator and I just think it is a bunch of shit to be honest,” he said.
“These blokes are not high and mighty and if they try this sort of shit people are going to call it out.”
The Canberra Liberals would not comment on internal party matters and neither the ACT division nor federal Young Liberals replied to emails from Region Media.
ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee previously said she had no knowledge of the incident or investigation and that party matters should be referred to the party executive.
The allegations give greater insight into the party marred by factional infighting.
Well-placed sources suggested that internal tensions between conservatives and moderates within the party were wreaking havoc in a party which has been criticised for being too conservative for the Canberra electorate.
There were also reports that funds were re-allocated to more conservative candidates in the final days of the campaign, while others were allegedly caught red-handed destroying election signage belonging to their factional opponents. Region Media has been told that more than one candidate’s signs were damaged.
ACT Senator and party powerbroker Zed Seselja is said to have fallen out with Ms Burch because she was not conservative enough, despite aligning with the conservative faction within the ACT Legislative Assembly as an MLA.
One source told Region Media that during the election campaign, signs belonging to Ms Burch would be destroyed while the corflutes of other candidates nearby – including Liberal candidates – would remain intact.