Two members of the ACT Young Liberals have resigned from the party following an investigation into the destruction of Liberal Party corflutes during the recent ACT election.
President Ben Dennehy was accused of destroying Kurrajong candidate Candice Burch’s corflutes as part of an internal party dispute. Ms Burch subsequently lost her seat.
Mr Dennehy’s name has since been removed from the Federal Young Liberals website.
Canberra Liberals President John Cziesla confirmed in a message to members on Tuesday (9 March) that two members of the party had resigned.
“As many members are aware, since the election the Complaints Committee has considered a number of complaints, including one relating to the destruction of Liberal corflutes during the election,” he said.
“… I can advise that Management Committee did make a preliminary finding against a member, and that subsequently, two members have resigned from the party.
“Given the resignations, the complaints process set out in the Constitution is now concluded.”
Mr Cziesla also addressed concerns from branch members over the handling of allegations, flagging a possible review into the complaints process within the party.
“In light of the concerns raised at Branch Meetings about the complaints process, we will consider whether the process can be further refined,” he said.
“I would take this opportunity to reinforce that while campaigns are highly stressful environments, there is no room and no tolerance for behaviour that undermines our election efforts, or fails to show proper respect for fellow members of the party.
“A further update to party members will be considered at an appropriate time.”
Mr Cziesla was heavily criticised at a fiery Kurrajong branch meeting in early February by both moderate and conservative members of the party for playing down the investigation and not answering questions clearly.
The amount of time the investigation had taken was also criticised by some party members.
While the destruction of opposition corflutes and campaign material is commonplace in politics and elections, it is rare for a member to target their own party’s material.
Canberra Liberals Director Josh Manuatu said “the fact that we took this matter so seriously highlights the importance we place on ensuring this never happens again”.
“We are always eager to improve our processes, and any feedback from members is welcome,” he said.
“There is no place and no tolerance for behaviour that undermines our election efforts, or fails to show proper respect for fellow members of the party.”
Mr Manuatu said he would take on board any feedback and provide a report to the President on any improvements that could be made.
Mr Dennehy worked for ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja at the time of the incident.
Mr Seselja said the matter came to his attention late last year and that he immediately referred it to the Liberal Party for investigation.
However, Mr Seselja did not confirm whether Mr Dennehy continued to be employed in his office.<
“I do not intend to comment on individual staff matters, however I strongly condemn behaviour of the type reported,” he said.
“The matters in question related to actions outside of office hours and [are] in no way associated with my office.
“I am advised the Party has now concluded a rigorous process and considers the matter closed.”
Mr Dennehy did not respond to a request for comment.