Pru Goward has angrily rejected an offer
from the hard right of the NSW Liberal Party of a seat in the Legislative
Council if she abandons the race for Epping, The Australian
and The Sydney Morning Herald report today. But that’s only the start of it.

The Oz gets closest to the full story. “As
well as Ms Goward rejecting Mr Clarke’s offer, it was totally unacceptable to
her supporters on the party’s Left, who would have been forced to give up one
of their own positions on the upper house ticket meant for faction leader Sam
Witheridge,” Brad
Norington and Imre Salusinszky write.

Clarke may believe he’s doing the
Almighty’s work – but this is remarkable behaviour.

By throwing Witheridge aside, he has
reneged on a deal the left and the right of the NSW Liberals only just managed
to stitch together last year.

“All bets are off. It’s war,” a well placed
NSW Liberal told Crikey this morning.

It’s not just war in Epping. This means war
throughout the NSW Libs.

Clarke has not just reneged on a deal. He’s
shat all over the Liberal left in the crudest display of his power and
influence in the NSW party – power that even the Prime Minister is unwilling to

While faction fighting seems set to spread
throughout the NSW Liberals with the news of the Legislative Council betrayal,
the right may still face some upsets in Epping.

The Cherrybrook branch of the party is
still attracting attention. Yesterday’s Australian followed up Crikey’s
revelations of Lebanese Maronite Christian branch stacking.

There may be more to come. Questions are
being asked about just who paid for people’s memberships.

This preselection seems set to become very
murky indeed.

Peter Fray

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