By Christian Kerr, political correspondent:

The mail keeps coming in after last week’s release of the 2004 election Financial Disclosure Returns,
the expenditure details lodged by candidates and Senate groups,
broadcasters and publishers and donors. The $700,000-plus battle for
Wentworth has received the most attention, in Crikey and elsewhere, and
aroused the greatest response from readers. Like this:

In response to the Crikey query re Peter King’s
advertising, in the months of August, September and October 2004, he
spent $6,000 with The Bondi View Community Newspaper. He spent more in The Spectator
(a weekly rag in the same area that gave him plenty of media release
coverage). Which may offer some more insight into the costs of Wentworth Courier advertising!

Caroline Cass, Lee Cass, Publisher/Editor, The Bondi View

Meanwhile, letters have been sent to some 20 Liberal Party
members under consideration for expulsion or suspension from the party
for backing the de-selected Peter King at the poll. They have been
invited to appear before state executive at the end of the month ahead
of a decision. Word is that they will be purged – but that they will
not go quietly. They have banded together to go out with a bang, with
talks of legal action. Eastern suburbs Liberal sources say one of the
dissidents, CBD celebrity lawyer James Bell, the campaign chairman, has
already briefed counsel ahead of the meeting – which could be
embarrassing and expensive for the party.

One of the Liberals
facing charges, Peter Cavanagh, the treasurer for the King campaign,
has circulated an email to supporters. Surprise, surprise it has found
its way to Crikey:

We all got
our priority paid letters today. Same old letter, same old format of
speeches and terror. Not that I am turning up for another inquisition.
One was more than enough. Besides everyone has made up their minds
anyway. Not only are they expelling/suspending the originals they have
expanded the list, as was expected.

Even poor Julie Lowy [see
the returns]. That really disgusts me. Someone who has done so much for
the Party over 40 years. She even has the party’s medal of honour or
whatever it is called. Such a lack of gratitude. One sin and you are
out these days. So much for the crap about a broad church and a party
of compassion.

I can understand a few of us unimportant people
being thrown on the bonfire of the vanities, but someone like Julie? As
she said to me today, she hates the word expulsion. That is what they
said to her when they threw her out of her country in 1956. Having not
long returned from Budapest before our inquisition I know what she
means. We all felt like we had been summoned to the house of death on
Andrassi Strasse. Such horrible memories to bring back to an
84-year-old woman who has devoted so much of her life and money to the
Party she believed in.

It makes one wonder if one wants to
belong to such a ruthless self serving party. Too many private deals
and grudges, that really have little to do with the people on trial and
lots more to do with party tensions. It is little to do with us, we
just happen to be the latest reason for a fight.

For my part,
I have always accepted a degree of wrong doing and am willing to accept
some form of punishment, but it needs to be fair and reasonable. This
silly situation is biased and only a few of the many are being charged.
Also it is based on expelling the first few that they had information
on. It is all rather unfair. But being somewhat guilty as charged I am
accepting of it for myself.

If they vote to take the
suspension method I will certainly go along with it. Having been
excluded from everything for the last six months I have nothing more to
lose. Under the legal system here one is allowed time off for time
already served. If that was applied to the last six months, then I
should be in the clear very soon.

It is poor Julie that has left a very bad taste in the mouths of so many.

Many rank and file Liberals believe that only the key King
personnel should get the chop at the Tower, not the foot soldiers and
minor financiers. Cavanagh’s assessment that this is a factional issue
is not strictly accurate, sources say. “It is more the increasingly
powerful David Clarke religious right and the under siege Joe Hockey
moderates falling all over themselves to hold the executioner’s axe and
be best mates to the increasingly powerful member for Wentworth,” says
one local Liberal.