The Supreme Court today backed a grassroots rebellion against the organisational chiefs of the NSW Liberal Party and rattled Tony Abbott’s election planning in the state.

I bet you'd go to a plebiscite. Pic: Supplied

The judgement has the potential to delay the selection of candidates in eight seats, including the marginal western Sydney seat of Greenway now held by Labor.

And the election of a new state Liberal president could be put off for as much as six weeks, further disrupting poll preparation, should talks tomorrow not reach agreement..

The rebels want a plebescite of local members in seats to decide who will stand for the Liberals at the election scheduled for late next year. They are fighting the imposition of candidates by the organisation.

But the party executive would not even put the plebescite proposition on the agenda of the branch’s annual general meeting on Saturday. So the rebels, from the central coast seat of Robertson and backed by the right wing of the party, went to court.

And in what right faction observers see as a rebuke, Supreme Court Judge William Nicholas told the party’s state executive it was not the gatekeeper blocking matters for discussion.

“The state executive is not empowered to act as what has been referred to as a gatekeeper in exercising a discretion as to whether or not the proposition should be put to the state council,” Justice Nicholas said.

This is being interpreted as part of the judge’s appeal for the parties to discuss the matter and sort it out themselves.

There are Liberal fears that the factional fight over preselection powers will repeat the shambles of 2010.

A factional brawl delayed selections of candidates before the election that year and some were only approved a few weeks before the election itself.

And the intensity of the factional fight should not be underestimated.

In mid-August a senior NSW Liberal figure telephoned Mr Abbott and warned that if he backed the reform bid “there will be World War III”. And the Opposition Leader made clear to colleagues he did not want any disruption.

The court decision effectively calls on the party executive to put three plebescite-related propositions on the state council’s AGM set for Saturday.

The AGM is expected to go ahead.

Earlier this week before the judgement Liberal NSW director Mark Neeham said the AGM, where the new branch president was to be selected, will go ahead.

“As many of you would know, the party has been sued in the NSW Supreme Court,” Mr Neeham said in an email to party members.

“The plaintiff is seeking, amongst other orders, an order that the state council set down for this weekend not proceed.

“The purpose of this Libmail is to assure members that these proceedings will be strongly opposed by the party and that, unless you hear otherwise from LCHQ, all state council delegates must therefore assume that this weekend’s state council AGM will go ahead as planned.”

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    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      05:43pm | 20/09/12

      “The rebels want a plebescite of local members in seats to decide who will stand for the Liberals at the election scheduled for late next year. They are fighting the imposition of candidates by the organisation.”

      Outrageous!!!! Next thing you know they’ll be wanting democracy. The Liberal Party executive must crush this rebellion. (Preferably with a Death Star and some Star Destroyers)

    • Barney Banana says:

      06:53pm | 20/09/12

      Yeah, because the ALP have never imposed candidates against the wishes of the local branches. And of course all of that shrinking ALP grass roots membership just LOVE it when the Sussex St overlords trample their democratic rights to promote another Union grub, or journalist, or rock star into parliament, instead of someone with genuine commitment and ties to the local communityt.
      Who is Peter Garrett, again?

    • Greeny says:

      09:51pm | 20/09/12

      Shane From Melbourne, it is not as straight forward as Mal Farr puts it.

      The NSW Liberal right-wing finally decides it supports plebiscites in 2012 only because it believes it has the numbers required to win.

      This can only mean more Cory Bernardi’s in Parliaments across Australia - more politicans that do not support widely held Australian views but instead their own brand of extremism.

      Because of the cancer of branch-stacking, whereby dummy members are temporarily signed up to the party just in time to allow them to vote (as instructed by a factional powerbroker), the democracy that you speak of is illusory. Stacks are convinced to join up but never go on to make a lasting contribution to a party or to our communities. They usually leave not long after a key vote has passed.

      A blanket six-month memberhsip rule with a minimum requirement for attendance and activity at party meetings and events is still not enough to cut out this cancer, as is plain to see.

      Sadly, all of our political parties face this challenge - balancing democratic membership versus the abuse of these democratic processes by career-driven factional power players.

    • maria says:

      06:10pm | 20/09/12

      What a pity that The Supreme Court does recognize the absolute power of the political parties who are not even mentioned in the constitution and not the will of the people as it should be in a democratic country who never stop to mention it.

    • acotrel says:

      06:37am | 21/09/12

      ‘The rebels want a plebescite of local members in seats to decide who will stand for the Liberals at the election scheduled for late next year. They are fighting the imposition of candidates by the organisation.’

      Democracy within the Liberal Party - what next ?
      ‘We’re not stalinist’  ! !  (says Tony Abbott !)  Ha ! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

      The Liberal Party is a bunch of poisonous control freaks !

    • Christian Real says:

      07:55am | 21/09/12

      Acotrel
      You are so right when you say the Lberal party are ‘control freaks’, one just has to look at the damage that they are causing to Queensland and other States.
      The Liberals are also the only political party that sincerely believes that they are born to rule.
      Five members of Newmans LNP State Government have even been forced to apologise to parliament, for incorrectly representing the State’s debt level in Parliament.
      They are Mark McArdle,Steve Dickson,Ray Stevens, John McVeigh and Darren Grimwade.
      “All MPs said Queensland had a $100 billion worth of debt,$35 billion more than it actually is.”
      Source: “The Courier Mail”, Newstory: “LNP misleading Qld on debt:opposition”, August 21, 2012 @ 5.25PM
      Surf the net and you will also find that Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott have also falsely claimied that Queensland’s debt is $100 billion, when that is a direct lie and not true.
      But then,what could you expect of Tony Abbott when he said “Don’t believe everything that I say.”

    • marley says:

      08:17am | 21/09/12

      @acotrel and Christian real - have either of you read the analysis of the problems within the ALP by Messrs Bracks, Carr and Faulkner?  They identified one of the biggest problems within that party as being the lack of democracy, the lack of influence grass roots members have on policy direction or candidate selection. 

      So, before criticising the Libs, maybe you should get your own house in order.  Frankly, both parties are a disgrace to democratic principles.

    • acotrel says:

      08:39am | 21/09/12

      ‘Five members of Newmans LNP State Government have even been forced to apologise to parliament, for incorrectly representing the State’s debt level in Parliament.’

      Harping about debt levels seems to be standard LNP strategy.  It gives no recognition to the fact that the GFC happened and the paradigm has shifted.  Belt tightening will probably be disastrous in this economic climate, but LNP ambitions are more important than the livelihoods of the battlers.

    • acotrel says:

      09:00am | 21/09/12

      @marley
      While we are talking about democracy, you might do a search on Wikipedia on Sir Arthur Tange and Brigadier Spry - both inordinately powerful public servants, and no doubt their modern counter parts still exist today. The politics of the fifties involved them and are still seen as the nirvana by the Liberal Party and Abbott.

    • acotrel says:

      09:04am | 21/09/12

      Marley, one thing that the unions are not, -  that is undemocratic, even though they can be silly at times.

    • marley says:

      09:46am | 21/09/12

      @acotrel - I didn’t say the unions were undemocratic. I said the ALP is undemocratic.  And Bracks, Faulkner and Carr essentially said the same thing.  Take it up with them if you disagree.

    • Babylon says:

      07:08pm | 20/09/12

      This is a non story. It’s just admin and housekeeping sensationalised.

      What is going to be used to fund the BIG spending of this Government, now thats a story for concern:

      We have $300 Billion debt.
      We have $120 Billion dollar black hole in the budget.

      Now add this…

      New Humanitarian intake $1.3 Billion dollars a year.
      Nauru repairs $2.1 Billion Dollars.
      Dental Scheme $4 Billion Dollars.
      NDIS $10.5 Billion Dollars.
      Gronski Reforms $6.5 Billion Dollars a year.
      Asst child Care $1.3 Billion Dollars a year.
      Submarines $35 Billion Dollars.

      ALL UNFUNDED!

      Should we be talking about taking the countries credit cards of Gillard and Swan before it’s too late?

    • Bear says:

      12:17am | 21/09/12

      @Babble-on, You must have a big backside to be able to pull so much out of it.

    • Alfie says:

      09:13am | 21/09/12

      @Bear

      Another challenging and well thought out response. Your brain must be in overdrive today.

    • iansand says:

      07:23pm | 20/09/12

      This will be entertaining.  Does it leave open the prospect of a Tea Party movement?  Although I hope they call it the Currency Lads and Lasses, for a bit of local verisimilitude.

    • acotrel says:

      09:17am | 21/09/12

      We don’t need a Tea Party, we’ve already got one under a different name !

    • Alfie says:

      05:11pm | 21/09/12

      Yep Acotrel - The Greens. Loopy as…

    • Christian Real says:

      05:35am | 21/09/12

      Babylon
      Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison should shoulder the blame,they lied to the Australian people,they lied to the Australian public.
      This extract from a news story “Nauru just needs a paint job:Abbott”, written by Political Editor, Mark Kenny, Canberra for “The Advertiser, June 14,2011 @b 12.00AM
      “All it would take was a phone call,perhaps a lick of paint and a few panes of glass and Nauru’s decommissioned former asylum seeker detention centre would be up and running again, Mr Abbott said.”
      Babylon, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison were primary responsible in misleading the Australian Parliament and the Australian people by falsely claiming that it would not take much to get Nauru’s detention centre up and running again.

    • acotrel says:

      06:42am | 21/09/12

      The return to Nauru stll hasn’t covered Howard’s backside against prosecution for human rights abuses, when he denied asylum seekers access to Australian courts to be shown just cause for their imprisonment.  A shameful way to treat people in distress !

    • marley says:

      08:22am | 21/09/12

      @acotrel - I find it odd that you criticise Howard for denying asylum seekers on Nauru access to the courts, when the Malaysian solution would have done the same thing. And at this point, it is the intention of the government that asylum seekers sent to Nauru will have access only to the Nauru system and not to the Australian courts.  Whether that is legally sustainable, I don’t know, but that’s their plan.  So, are you calling for Gillard and Bowen to be prosecuted for human rights offences?  If not, why not?

    • acotrel says:

      09:09am | 21/09/12

      Marley, the Malaysian option DID NOT HAPPEN !  Nauru DID !  Coulda, woulda, shoulda are irrelevant.  Howard is guilty of human rights abuses.  The High Court decision to give asylum seekers access to the courts proved that his actions were illegal. As a solicitor he knew all about habeas corpus, yet he went right ahead with his cynical agenda to exploit Pauline Hanson’s politics.

    • acotrel says:

      09:14am | 21/09/12

      @marley
      ‘So, are you calling for Gillard and Bowen to be prosecuted for human rights offences?  If not, why not? ‘

      Difficult to prosecute someone purely for their intentions ! Howard actually committed an offence under international law.

    • marley says:

      09:43am | 21/09/12

      acotrel - you’re missing my point entirely.  You regularly make this complaint about Howard, yet when the Malaysia solution looked like a goer, I didn’t hear word one from you about how unconscionable it would be.  As I don’t hear a word from you now about how Nauru Mark 2 is unconscionable because it denies asylum seekers access to the Australian courts.

      If it was wrong for Howard, it’s wrong for Gillard.  And since there are now asylum seekers on Nauru without access to the Australian courts, we are not talking intentions, but acts.  Presumably Gillard is now as much in violation of your hypothetical international law as Howard was.

    • Christian Real says:

      07:37am | 21/09/12

      Acotrel
      I totally agree what you have written in your comment

    • Tom says:

      10:41am | 21/09/12

      Aaahh. Ain’t love grand?

    • Alfie says:

      03:11pm | 21/09/12

      The blind leading the blind.

    • acotrel says:

      08:47am | 21/09/12

      ‘But then,what could you expect of Tony Abbott when he said “Don’t believe everything that I say.” ‘

      Even when he said that there was a lie in it.  For ‘everything’ read ‘anything’ !

    • Blind Freddy says:

      10:20am | 21/09/12

      The Liberal Party has been taken over by the DLP, and they either don’t care or know. They are so desperate to get back to their role of being our born-to-rule overlords that they have allowed themselves to be white-anted.

      The backers of the Liberal Party are beginning to realise that in a “drover’s dog” election you don’t want to waste the opportunity on a mongrel mutt - or a poodle.

      There are still the Ashby/Pyne/Brough and Jackson/Lawler/Abbott stories to play out yet. And contrary to a lot of peoples ill-informed beliefs it isn’t going to be pretty for some Liberals and their “connections”.

      My prediction is that Abbott will be gone before the next election and he will take half the front bench down with him, and in 12 months’ time all of the ex-Abbott backers will be on here saying what a great guy Malcolm is.

    • Hugh Bris says:

      11:09am | 21/09/12

      I completely agree on the take over of the coalition by the DLP,and have been saying so for some time!  I can’t understand how the great W.A.S.P. party of Bob Menzies has been allowing this to happen !!  Bob would be spinning in his grave….

    • Hugh Bris says:

      11:09am | 21/09/12

      I completely agree on the take over of the coalition by the DLP,and have been saying so for some time!  I can’t understand how the great W.A.S.P. party of Bob Menzies has been allowing this to happen !!  Bob would be spinning in his grave….

    • Alfie says:

      01:45pm | 21/09/12

      Labor = Rebels Without a Clue

    • Eifla says:

      01:15pm | 22/09/12

      Liberals = Rebels in need of Anger management

 

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