Jun 1, 2005

David Oldfield: born again Liberal?

Is David Oldfield, the former NSW One Nation MLC, about to rejoin the Liberal Party?Senior Libs have supposedly been consulted and no objections raised. Some reports say t

Is David Oldfield, the former NSW One Nation MLC, about to rejoin the Liberal Party?

Senior Libs have supposedly been consulted and no objections raised. Some reports say the independent parliamentarian has been approached by the ALP, neutralising an attack from that direction.

Crikey tried Oldfield's mobile and Parliament House office numbers this morning. One was switched off and the other went to voice mail.

Oldfield is not a right wing zealot. His political beliefs are best described as shameless opportunism. He worked for Tony Abbott in the early days of the Howard government, yet styled himself a moderate. He kept an eye on the Liberal nomination for the NSW state seat of Manly, yet spent plenty of time on the road, laying the groundwork for Pauline Hanson's One Nation. When it became clear which party offered him the best route into parliament, he jumped.

NSW Liberals are divided, as moderates and saner conservatives feel increasingly threatened by hard right MLC David Clarke and his holy warriors. Members of the party left are believed to be behind the Oldfield leaks, yet Oldfield, despite his Hanson associations, is an unlikely fit with the Jihadists. If he ever indulges in self flagellation, it's for very different reasons to Clarke and his fellow Opus Dei types. Oldfield's a good time boy.

Talk is that negotiations began with Oldfield under former party director Scott Morrison, who persuaded opposition leader John Brogden to play ball.

If Oldfield rejoins the Liberals, the biggest question is what happens to his political career. The NSW Liberals have indicated that they want to hold their pre-selections earlier rather than later, to have candidates on the ground for the 2007 poll as soon as possible. Party sources say no deal has been done over his Legislative Council position – but Manly might be a goer. Independent Manly MP David Barr said in his local government days that councillors should only serve two terms. His second stint in Macquarie Street will be up in 2007. Could Oldfield run – or is he too right wing?

“Too right wing” doesn't seem to worry the highest ranks of the NSW Liberal Party at the moment. Less than a fortnight ago, Brogden defended the right of a former One Nation secretary, Lex Stewart, to join the Liberal Party's Kellyglen branch in north-west Sydney.

“Everybody's entitled to join the Liberal Party so long as they subscribe to our broad range of views,” Brogden was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald. “Not every former One Nation voter or every former One Nation member is a ridiculous extremist.”

However, the Australian Jewish News has said that Stewart was a senior One Nation official who addressed the Sydney Forum in 2003, an event organised by the extreme right wing Adelaide Institute, run by Holocaust denier Frederic Toben, who has served prison time in Germany for his views.

Blogger and Labor staffer Robert Carr ran more on Stewart on his site as the controversy broke: "You can't expect the leader of a party to personally vet every membership application,” Carr said. “But when it's been brought to your attention that Stewart was a senior policy adviser to Pauline Hanson and has spoken at an event run by the Holocaust-denying Adelaide Institute, it's probably wise to take another look."

Stewart's involvement in other political parties raises further concerns. He was integral in the establishment of the Great Australians party, and was its National Leader in 2002. Just like the Citizens Electoral Council, GA calls for tax reform and economic isolationism. But just like the CEC, the party also believes in a global conspiracy involving international finance, global government and — of course — the Jews…

"Lex Stewart helped establish an anti-Semitic political party, and gave a speech to a conference of racists and Holocaust-deniers,” Carr concluded. “These are not matters that can be lightly brushed aside, and it is incumbent upon John Brogden to follow them up (there might be a perfectly innocent explanation) and decide whether such a person is welcome as a member of the NSW Liberal Party."

While he's at it, Brogden might like to give us a David Oldfield “please explain.”

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