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Abbott, O’Farrell look on as NSW Libs shoot for the foot

Just when Barry O’Farrell is trying to build transport networks and balance the budget, a long-simmering factional brawl within the NSW Liberals is threatening to derail his plans. And Tony Abbott’s.

Spare a thought for poor old Barry O’Farrell. Just when he is trying to build transport networks and balance the budget, a long-simmering factional brawl within the NSW Liberals is threatening to derail his plans.

Despite the NSW Premier coming out last month to say that there was no place for “wannabe Joe Tripodis” in the Liberal Party, the hard-right faction wasn’t listening. They’ve initiated a court action that has the potential to affect next year’s federal election.

All of this in a week in which South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi has highlighted what the far-right of the Liberal Party can look like — homophobic, xenophobic, climate change deniers. (Interestingly, the teenage Bernardi represented Australia in rowing, a sport in which you move backwards — which may reflect his world view.)

Yesterday a member of the Robertson branch of the Libs, Denis Pogson, initiated legal action in the NSW Supreme Court aimed at stopping a meeting of the party’s state council from going ahead on Saturday. Most sensible people would assume the members of the Robertson branch are devoting every waking moment to the removal of Labor members Deborah O’Neill and the neighbouring Craig Thomson, but this is perhaps not the case.

Far right-wing powerbroker Chris Hartcher, the 66-year-old Minister for Resources and Energy, is reportedly behind the action, which is designed to force the all-powerful state executive of the party to change the constitution to allow “plebiscites” or direct election of state and federal candidates. It is also seeking to abolish the “special powers” of the state executive, which allow it to override the branches to impose their own candidates when the branches preselect someone particularly unelectable.

Hartcher and his faction argue that if the rules were changed it would enable more “grassroots participation” in community politics. However, the centre-right and left factions of the party, which control the state executive, are afraid that it would lead to branch-stacking. This is a vulnerable time for the party, as it has not yet preselected candidates in up to 12 federal seats. The mooted changes would also mean the hard-right could unseat vulnerable sitting members, including Philip Ruddock and Bronwyn Bishop, along with the youthful Alex Hawke, who used to be an acolyte of right-wing MP David Clarke and is now a bitter enemy.

All of which is a major headache for Tony Abbott, who complained that the party’s poor showing in NSW in 2010 was a direct result of the factional in-fighting and consequent delay in preselecting candidates. The party is particularly unhappy with this public airing of dirty laundry, with one lawyer yesterday anxiously approaching me to ask how many media were in court and where we were from.

One thing you could say for Joe Tripodi — at least his factional manoeuvring never reached a courtroom. If Antony Roberts and Chris Hartcher really want to be known as factional powerbrokers, they are going to have to learn to twist a few arms in private.

Justice William Nicholas will bring down his decision this afternoon.

26
  • 1
    B.C.
    Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    It appears that the court has found in favour of Robertson FEC and against the Liberal Party.

  • 2
    SBH
    Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    if the rules were changed it would enable more “grassroots participation” in community politics.”

    Of course it would, just like it dos in the ALP rotflmao

  • 3
    Edward James
    Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    It is really hard to promote these political clowns as the best tools to displace Labor. When they carry on like this in full view! Uncle Fester is loosing the plot almost as quick as he has lost supporters. Edward James

  • 4
    Karen
    Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    @ Edward James - have you considered that, perhaps, it is these political
    clowns (your words)
    that need to be displaced, given that you profess to sit in the middle
    by referring to both parties as ‘not much preferred’. Or, is it that you
    have always supported the Liberal Party and are too ashamed to admit
    to it?

  • 5
    Recalcitrant.Rick
    Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like the use of the word “tools” in Edward James post
    describes them perfectly!

  • 6
    Edward James
    Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    @ Karen. I have no respect for our political allsorts while they continue to accommodate systemic abuse of my due process and corrupt conduct. There is a limit to what I can do on my own. But I do what I can. I noticed the Labor Party was copping a deserved beating Nationally from constituents who have simply had a gut full. I am more than happy to assist them with my own paid announcements in papers. Whatever it takes to help unhappy voters get rid of as many dead wood Labor Party members as possible. Ask those political Liberal clowns if I am a supporter, they will laugh in your face! And the same goes for Labor, they have never got over the really unflattering photo of their last AG John Hatzistergos which I keep publishing. I am doing what I can on my own. Crikey has been really good. Our council has a body count of five, they misled the state coroner during his inquiry. I have promulgated that assertion more times than I can count, over years. Only a very few people have taken any notice. I am limited in what I may write here. But believe me I do not hold back in several local papers. Edward James

  • 7
    Edward James
    Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Too right Recalcitrant Rick. I started out cap in hand way back in 2000 Thinking all I needed to do was expose shonky conduct happening at Local council and it would be sorted in no time. I expect there are plenty of Crikey readers who know the score first hand. Why do so many people say let it go you will go broke it is destroying your life. Are they sincere or are that just trying to protect their favorite politician? Edward James

  • 8
    AR
    Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    As bad as the public face of MM & his unlovely cohort, this is an indication of the troglodytes and vermin roiling below the brittle surface, eager to break through.
    If Ballyhoo, Fatty O’Barrel & Campy Newman aren’t warning enough, then this country will get the government it deserves.
    Unfortunately, I’ll cop the electorate’s just desserts. And what a desert of decency it will be.

  • 9
    Karen
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    @ EdwardJames - given how bad the Libs have been across the Eastern seaboard, in particular, one would think you could also have devoted equal energy to ‘getting rid of the rotted, deadwood’ currently in office, I would have thought. The fact the you haven’t suggests you are a closet conservative. Why not admit it?

  • 10
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Philip Ruddock and Bronwyn Bishop are not right wing enough for the hard right! They seem determined to make the Liberal Party as unelectable as the tea party Republicans.

  • 11
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    @ Karen It is just politics! You love Labor even though their numbers have dropped so far they are inbreeding politically across the three tiers of government. The two parties not much preferred are the way they are because their rusted on supporters do not care enough. I do much more than simply post comments on Crikey Karen, I put four pages in the center of Grandstand 6 September one of our local papers exposing all those shonky politicians who campaigned outside the law during Gosford council elections. I am reacting the way I believe a disenfranchised constituent should react. The politicians I am attacking over many years in the print media with photographs and caustic comments and their supporters do not like it! Edward James

  • 12
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    @ Karen. I noticed this from you Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 4:30 pm “given that you profess to sit in the middle
    by referring to both parties as ‘not much preferred’ ” I do not sit in the middle like some political mugwump. You seem desperate to overlook that fact, while pursuing your own one eyed political agenda. There are many more political options for us apart from “the two parties not much preferred” I have also often published this observation; While the two parties not much preferred piss on our backs and tell us it is raining. Edward James

  • 13
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Perhaps some Labor party supporters can explain why the past Labor AG John Hatzistergos looks so surprised to have been photographed reading some of my often published allegations about Gosford City Council misleding the State Coroner during his inquiry into the deaths of five people at Piles Creek, Somersby NSW? John Robertson has also been photographed reading the same allegations. He was Minister for the Central Coast after John Della Bosca. Who along with his wife disgraced themselves in public political life at Iguana Joes among other things. Elected reps have a civic duty to exercise their influence in the best interest of their constituents. When they forget that they should pay the price in the court of public opinion. Edward James

  • 14
    Karen
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    @EdwardJames - so why do you spend all your time pissing on the Labor
    Party whilst leaving the Liberal Party off the hook?

  • 15
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    @ Karen. @EdwardJames - so why do you spend all your time pissing on the Labor
    Party whilst leaving the Liberal Party off the hook? While many may perceive Labor nationally as a manure heap. I would not piss on the Labor Party if they were on fire. We know they are rotting, because as John Hatton pointed out to his readers in his book, there is a stench. My readers on the central coast over the growing number of years, have understood the reason why have embarked a labour of Sisyphus. I stand up in public forums including crikey.com calling for honest open government. Are you even aware of those five people who died wrongful deaths in a ditch at the bottom of Piles Creek at Somersby ? You can not be serious ? Edward James

  • 16
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    @ Karen here is something from earlier years. There are so few actual party members in the two parties not much preferred, they are hardly representative of the masses. Yet it is this minority which imposes its political constraints on the population. I do try to encourage voters to pursue their elected representatives in public about issues we the people want addressed. It is not very bright to leave it to sometimes less than a few hundred party members in and electorate to advise the elected rep or preselect someone they support. Because quite often it is another Milton the horrible Orkopolous, MP Karyn Paluzzano, silly Matt Brown or cheat John Della Bosca. Most of the politicians who come very publicly unstuck. Are found out by their supporters and families long before their personal short comings bring them down in public. The question I ask is why do other party members and family accommodate activity which brings the professional occupation of politics into such disrepute? Time and time again. As I have written elsewhere, these politicians are not conscripted. They hold them selves up as guiding lights asking us to give them our votes in trust. Then we are usually betrayed time and time again. Edward James

  • 17
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    It is Friday Crikey will the moderated comments many of which have already been published on Crikey be waiting till next week ? Please try and be fair dinkum! Edward James

  • 18
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Crikey’s moderation guidelines ask posters to direct their comments about moderation to Crikey rather than post them on the site.

  • 19
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    @ Gavin MOODIE, yes they certainly do Gavin. I am fully aware of the moderation guidelines, having been a subscriber on and off for years. But thanks for pointing out you too are aware. My post was to crikey readers though. I just slipped out for some more beers. While making my purchase and speaking with the licensee this comment sprang from my lips; If we don’t stand up and speak out, then we will become part of the carpet which covers the political sins against the peoples! I am pleased with this clarity Gavin. What about you? Edward James

  • 20
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I hope there are political independents who subscribe to crikey.com.au Reading this. People who are able to dial a phone number and talk. Because my often published allegations here on this crikey site and elsewhere, are genuine. I write this because there is no way the information which I promulgate is valueless in fact it calls into question so many of our elected representatives. Crikey has for years even before its sell off by Mr Mayne to media interest. been fairdinkum about representative govrnment. Edward james 0243419140

  • 21
    Karen
    Posted Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    @EdwardJames - you still haven’t answered the question. Why has stopped you from criticising the Liberal governments in this country, given you professed disenchantment with the major parties?

  • 22
    Edward James
    Posted Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    @ Karen I have answered your question by posting a link to a Crikey string http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/07/06/exit-the-accidental-premier-enter-della/ which dates back to 2009. Keep in mind on the 8 of November 2007 on the front page of the now defunct Fairfax Central Coast Sun Weekly The Prime Minister (Howard) promised “if returned his government would foot the bill for the road repair at Piles Creek.” My own advertising identified this bald front page grab for voter support as the most offensive act of pork barrelling I have ever witnessed. The Australian Prime Minister was prepared to reach over the bodies of five dead, to buy votes for Jim Lloyd. I challenged Jim Lloyd on exactly this sad issue, during a gathering at the Uniting Church in Donnison Street Gosford. The rest is history he ( Jim Lloyd) lost the seat by less than 500 votes. It is a matter of public record right here on many Crikey.com.au strings that I have no political favorites. Edward James

  • 23
    Edward James
    Posted Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Karen
    Posted Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 12:47 am My answer which is in many Crikey strings going back years was moderated and removed. Suffice to write you are wrong when you insist I only attack Labor Edward James

  • 24
    Karen
    Posted Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    @Edward James - how refreshing - focussing on the present rather than the past! There’s plenty of material for you to work with now - Lib govts across the eastern seaboard sacking people and cutting basic services, only to transfer those savings to achieving other preferred stated policy objectives of reducing or eliminating payroll tax and stamp duty (which, as you’d appreciate is just a free kick to wealthier business owners and property speculators).

  • 25
    Edward James
    Posted Wednesday, 26 September 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Why are so many Labor Party supporters so keen to have me forget about their political sins? So keen in fact they have begun to erroneously insist I never attack Liberal. I can’t make any sense of your last comment. I simply pointed out one of my attacks on the Liberal Party the Prime Minister John howard in fact dating back to 2007. I never read anything from Labor or their supporters about the offensive pork barreling. How could Labor simply ignore our Prime Minister a senior politician figuratively reaching over the bodies of five dead people, three of them children. To buy votes for the Member for Robertson. Many of the dud politicians are still taking our taxes because they enjoy unthinking support! Edward James

  • 26
    Edward James
    Posted Wednesday, 3 October 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Bias opinions from blind political supporters, result in string coming to a stop! Edward James

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