Stacked, sealed, delivered – he’s yours. An exhaustive ballot process turned out to be unnecessary in the Epping Liberal preselection on Saturday. NSW Deputy DPP and right-to-lifer Greg Smith won an absolute majority on the first ballot, receiving 61 votes to Pru Goward’s 32.

Goward’s poor showing is evidence of both the power of the Liberals’ ascendant hard right and the parochial protest vote that always accompanies attempts to drop out-of-towners into safe seats.

It shows how ruthlessly Epping had been stacked. Ethnic shenanigans in the branches are the usual preserve of the ALP. When asked about Liberal history, it seems as if many Epping preselectors would have responded “Sir Robert Who?” Goward had a few aces up her sleeve, a number of very prominent referees – one of whom sent a letter out dated 13 September:

Dear Selector

Pru Goward has my wholehearted support as a candidate for preselection for the Liberal Party in Epping.

When my father, Sir Robert Menzies, was starting the Liberal Party over 60 years ago, he placed great value on the support he was given by women. He believed that women had a major role to play in the party. This is even truer now than then.

I have always admired the skill and intelligence with which Pru has tackled the various assignments she has had in her career. As a resident of Canberra I’ve probably had a better opportunity to appreciate these attributes than the electors of Epping, but I hope that they too will have the chance to recognise for themselves these qualities as time goes by.

My father used to say, “There is no substitute for brains”. Pru has plenty of those, and much more – her character and interest in people and their welfare could make a great contribution to Epping, New South Wales and Australia.

Kind regards

Heather Henderson
(Nee Menzies)

It’s clearly a very different Liberal Party nowadays!