NSW Liberals are warning a worsening factional battle will spark “civil war” in the seat of Hughes ahead of the federal election and party members in the south Sydney electorate will not accept a candidate being imposed on them.
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison flags federal intervention to end the turmoil over preselections, branch members have been enraged by a purported plan to install former Young Liberals president Alex Dore as the candidate for Hughes, held by turncoat MP Craig Kelly, ahead of other nominees including state Liberal MP Melanie Gibbons.
In a letter to the Liberal Party state executive seen by the Herald, president of the Hughes federal electoral conference (FEC) John Riad said party members had not had a preselection or been given “the free will to select their member without external interference since 2010”.
“The FEC has shown tolerance being overruled for over a decade for the greater good of the country, the Coalition government, and for the Liberal Party,” Mr Riad’s letter said.
“However, we can no longer accept the membership not being given a chance (again) to participate in the preselection process without interfering with their democratic rights as liberal party members.”
A senior Liberal in the Hughes FEC said branch members would no longer stomach being denied the chance to select their candidate through a democratic process and warned such an outcome would result in “civil war”.
“We cannot ask our branch members to hand out on election day, man stands, help for hours on polling days if we do not give them the chance to have their say. It is absolutely outrageous,” the senior party member said.
With the party yet to select candidates in a number of key seats including Hughes, Dobell and Tony Abbott’s former seat of Warringah, Mr Morrison on Wednesday told the warring factions to end their “childish games”.