The stack is on, Andrew Thomson is a marked man but he’s not going down without a fight in Wentworth and has even called in the cops.

All set to write the story on Saturday, we noticed that the Sydney Morning Herald had it so let’s firstly take a look at a few paragraphs of what Paul Sheehan wrote under the headline:

POLICE HUNT LIB BRANCH STACKERS By Paul Sheehan Police are investigating allegations of branch stacking in the blue ribbon Federal seat of Wentworth, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The sitting MP and former Howard government minister, Mr Andrew Thomson, sparked the inquiry after learning a woman had been enrolled in the Rose Bay branch without her knowledge. Mr Thomson believes his actions have ended the convention in Australian party politics that the police should not become involved in internal party affairs. “A police investigation is now under way in my electorate,” Mr Thomson said yesterday. “Until now there has been a convention that the criminal law of fraud is not brought to bear on political branch stacking. “But I will not let myself be corruptly stacked out of Parliament. The people responsible for this fraud have to be expelled from the party. The police commander of the eastern suburbs region, Superintendent Bob May, confirmed that the police were now involved. “An investigation has begun,” Superintendent May said. “It’s unknown how far this will go, or how contained this matter is.” Mr Thomson’s electorate, covering most of the eastern suburbs, is one of the wealthiest in Australia and one of the Liberal Party’s premium blue-ribbon seats. The controversy began when a woman presented several membership forms to the Liberal Party headquarters in Sydney and paid the $53 membership fees. When the Liberal Party called to check the authenticity of the application forms it found a woman who had been enrolled knew nothing about it. Not only was she already a member of the Liberal Party, but she was related to a member of Mr Thomson’s electoral staff. She alerted Mr Thomson’s staff two weeks ago and the matter has expanded rapidly. “The Liberal Party secretariat agrees there appears to be at least 40 memberships that have been stacked, and they are still checking,” Mr Thomson said. “I told the party I felt obligated to take the matter to the police because it involved fraud.” The paper trail in Wentworth has led back to someone in the Liberal Club at the University of NSW. “We found there have been 120 new Young Liberal members in Wentworth in the past six months,” Mr Thomson said.

There are a few more details we can add to this. According to Thomson, the President of the Rose Bay branch is a lady by the name of Fiona Sinclair-King. As Hillary Bray has reported before, her son Peter King is hoping to win preselection but faces a challenge from a rival contender who is also very keen to win the support of old and new members alike.

Thomson alleges that the lady who paid for the second subscription of Thomson’s staff member’s mother is president of the Watson Bay branch of the Liberal Party. Now everyone is running around blaming each other and Thomson’s request to get the police involved has everyone running a million miles.

Similar attacks are expected to be mounted against Tony Abbott, although Howard would be more supportive of the monarchist Mad Monk than Thomson.

Afterall, Howard sacked Thomson from Cabinet after his first term, did it over the phone and complained that he had been a lazy minister.

Having seen the process-rorting performance of the Liberals in Queensland over the Senate vacancy and the prospect of similar preselection battles breaking out in safe Victorian seats, the Liberals really are looking like a complete rabble.

It’s how far Kim Beazley we reckon, not that that will do Australia any good at all.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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