The mysterious Amanda Riley explains all the winners and the losers at the the WA Liberal state council meeting but she’s is given a serious dressing down below by Bernie Masters, the disendorsed member for Vasse in the WA parliament.

Saturday’s State council Meeting was a critical day in the lives of many Liberal Party aficionados. There were some big winners and of course there were some who were belted so hard they will probably disappear forever from the local political scene.

The whole damaging episode that dominated discussion at the State Council meeting was squarely aimed at doing terminal damage to Deputy Liberal Leader, Dan Sullivan, the surrounding dramas and intrigues were little more than entertaining sideshows.

The saga began in December when the Opposition Leader confided to his inner circle that he that he was going to ‘do in’ his Deputy Leader once and for good, on the pretext for his alleged involvement in the dumping of his fellow Left Faction ally, Bernie Masters. This alleged involvement by Sullivan has been subsequently revealed as nothing more than a figment of Bernie Masters’s furtive imagination.

Barnett colluded with the hopelessly naïve Forrest Division President, Charlie Martella, to find a candidate to run against Sullivan in the newly created seat of Leschenault. Martella, eager to please Barnett, worked with his local Federal Member, Geoff Prosser, to find a candidate.

Prosser is believed to hold a bitter grudge against Sullivan over a decision by the Bunbury City Council, of which Sullivan was a Councilor, long before Sullivan entered State politics. They found a candidate, however, to intensify the intrigue their selected candidate asked for their name to be kept anonymous until the day of pre-selection. However, politics being what it is, the name of the candidate became known fairly quickly.

Most Bunbury Liberals became aware of the identity of the candidate courtesy of a member of the Mitchell Branch of the Labor Party who thought that it was a hoot to know the name of this mysterious person and especially that it was a former Young Liberal who several years earlier had suddenly left the employ of a former state Liberal Minister in mysterious circumstances!

The same person, the Martella/Barnett candidate, has been working with Prosser for several years and has been trying to mix it lately with the local movers and shakers, however, with little success. With the State Council Meeting there were winners and losers.

The following is a short précis of where everybody stands:

The Winners

Danielle Blain – Liberal State President – Showed strong and purposeful leadership when it counted most. Gave an account to the delegates that cleared Sullivan of any involvement in the demise of Masters. This account put paid to Masters’s claims in one smooth stroke. Also brokered a meeting between the C&D Committee, whom it was thought by all had ruled that Sullivan’s home Branch of Mitchell should not be involved in the pre-selection for Leschenault, Sullivan and the party hierarchy. Resolved that C&D had not issued a ruling, only that it had provided general advice to the State Director. Result was that Mitchell Branch will now be involved in the pre-selection process. Also has rescued the financial position of the Liberal Party in Western Australia by proving to be an ‘el supremo’ fund-raiser.

Mathias Cormann – Liberal Party Vice President – Managed the C&D dispute with aplomb and showed that he is the future for the Liberal Party in Western Australia.

Bob Cronin – Liberal Party Vice President – Has been steadfast in his support of Blaine throughout the whispering campaign. His position has been enhanced by his support.

Dan Sullivan – Deputy Opposition Leader – Showed that by keeping his mouth shut and letting the truth be revealed by others always pays dividends. His position in the Parliamentary Liberal Party has been greatly enhanced. C&D Committee – Showed that by playing with a straight bat at all times pays huge dividends.

Troy Buswell – Vasse Candidate – Never responded to Masters vitriolic attacks and played his hand well, perhaps showed that he is a future Minister!

Peter Foss – Former Shadow Attorney General – Resigned during the week from the Shadow Front Bench because he was fed up with Barnett’s leadership. His position is greatly enhanced for taking such a strong stand. Will be a key figure in any new leadership team.

The Losers

Colin Barnett – Opposition Leader – Set out to destroy Sullivan and failed! His leadership is now in tatters and faces a nervous wait until February 23rd when Masters has declared he we will call for a spill of leadership positions. Previously ‘rusted on’ supporters have had enough and will now support a leadership change.

Bernie Masters – Member for Vasse – Finished!

Charlie Martella – Forrest President – Was used and manipulated by others more ‘un-skilled’ in political skullduggery. Moves already afoot in Forrest by the ‘young Turks’ to replace him.

Barnett/Martella’s candidate in Leschenault – Game is over, no longer a contender. Opponents have a long list of this person’s ‘achievements’ in the Young Libs to roll out when the time is right.

Paul Everingham – State Director – Has not endeared himself to the rank and file by ensuring the allocated number of State Council delegates turn up for each pre-selection. All those who grumbled about the former State Director, Peter Wells are not grumbling any more! Misinterpreted the C&D Committees general advice re Leschenault and caused a huge ruction. Has played favourites and paid the consequences. Needs to consider his future.

Richard Ellis – Chief of Staff to Barnett – Was completely outfoxed and outwitted. Tried to be Machiavellian but didn’t have a clue on how to get it right.

Campbell/Ellison/Keogh Faction – Once again backed the wrong horse with their concentrated whispering campaign that was specifically aimed at Blaine. Fast becoming totally irrelevant! They have picked candidates on their ability to toe their line rather than their ability to contribute to constructive debate or policy development.

Bernie Masters hits back

Dear Crikey,

Politics is often a very serious business so it was good to be able to laugh
at Amanda Riley’s report on last Saturday’s meeting of the WA State Council
meeting. Whoever Ms Riley is, she is cleverly selective in her statements of
the truth and in her conclusions.

In response to her comedy piece, I advise:

1) There are no Left or Right factions in the WA Liberal Party. For the last
20 years, the factions have been based on personalities – Noel
Crichton-Browne and Fred Chaney, for example. If Amanda ever asks about my
politics, she’ll find that I’m an economic dry who happens to believe in
protecting our air, soil and water for future generations, while also being
a supporter of Colin Barnett.

2) I don’t know why Geoff Prosser MHR and Dan Sullivan don’t get on but
Amanda failed to mention a pretty important fact: that Dan worked for
several years in Geoff’s office in Bunbury. I assume that the falling out
between these two occurred during this period but to suggest that Geoff
opposes Dan because the City of Bunbury took a decision that Geoff was
unhappy with is stretching one’s credibility just a little.

3) State president Danielle Blain did NOT give an account to State Council
delegates that cleared Dan of any involvement in my demise. All she did was
read out a personal letter written by Dan in which he denied involvement. In
contrast, I supplied all State Councillors with a statutory declaration
outlining my understanding of Dan’s support for my opponent Troy Buswell. As
to who was telling the truth, only time will tell.

4) I usually don’t like making comment about third parties but heaven help
the Liberal Party if people like Mathias Cormann are our future. For three
years, I shared an office in Parliament with Rhonda Parker who was Minister
for Family and Children’s Services. One of her senior staff members was
Mathias and I have never experienced a less sensitive, more antagonistic
staffer than him. Shouting down the phone; hanging up on people; swearing;
demanding rather than asking; rudeness to embarrass even Warren Anderson!

5) Troy Buswell may be ministerial material but he has a lot to do and learn
between now and then. More importantly, Troy never responded to my vitriolic
attacks because I never attacked him! At best, Troy is simply an opportunist
who was able to gain the support of a number of key people to help unseat
me. My vitriol has been directed as his supporters, principally Dan, and the
system, with Troy largely going unnoticed. (Not for much longer, however).

6) Finally, I have never declared that I will call for a spill of leadership
positions within the parliamentary Liberal Party, only of the deputy’s
position. If Colin Barnett is challenged at the first party room meeting for
the year on February 24, I have every confidence that he will easily win,
unless the Party wants to concede the next election 12 months before it is
held. The only person at risk from a spill is Dan and it is quite
disingenuous of Amanda to suggest that some of Colin’s ‘rusted on’
supporters will change the vote, when in fact it will be some of the few
remaining supporters of Dan who will be jumping ship.

Am I finished? Watch this space!

Bernie Masters
Still the Member for Vasse

A third party enters the debate 

Despite Amanda Riley’s strange reporting on Dangate to Crikey, today State Liberal leader Colin Barnett temporarily saved his bacon after meeting with Charlie Martella and challenger Michelle Riley at a function in Collie. Despite knowing that Dan will continue to threaten his leadership, Colin requested that Michelle withdraw from the challenge for the sake of party unity, which to her credit, the former Young Liberal President, Treasurer of Forrest Division and local resident, agreed to do.


What hasn’t been reported is that there are moves afoot to assure Dan doesn’t survive State Council. Despite the backing of the remaining few of the NCB faction, led by Senator David Johnston, Dan has little support amongst the party and a number of State Members and Senators have starting lobbying for Dan’s dis-endorsement, seeing this as the only way to assure a Liberal Government for WA.


But more scandalous for Dan is the statement by his branches Senior Vice President that he didn’t even know he held a position in the party, let alone had attended a meeting of the branch in 4 years, despite Dan being the one to nominate him to the position at the Mitchell Branch AGM. Together with the stacking of 91 people by Dan into the branch in a desperate attempt to save his preselection, the initial party investigation looks like it could go further.


Dan continues to have little support in the South West, and demonstrates this by using staff and family members to write letters of support to the local press, with few others willing to stand by him. His chances of becoming party leader are now non-existent, and given the first chance of a spill, his parliamentary colleagues will dump him as deputy. The only loser from the whole process is Dan Sullivan, who can only be described as “Dead Dan walking”.

Liberal Insider