There are few certainties in politics but it is odds-on that the NSW Liberal Party director Graham Jaeschke won’t be keeping his job after the federal election. On his watch, the NSW Liberal Party has failed to tame the far right fundamentalist Christian faction which has been encouraged during Prime Minister John Howard’s 11-year term in office.

Now some high-profile party members have been caught distributing racially and religiously offensive leaflets in the Liberal-held western Sydney seat of Lindsay portraying Labor as the party sympathetic to Islamic terrorism. Upon learning that the ALP was about to go public with revelations of the Liberal dirty tricksters, Jaeschke, a former South Australian Liberal state director, reported the incident to the Australian Electoral Commission and disciplined the offending members.

Although there is no evidence he is implicated, it was yet another black mark against his three-year stewardship of the NSW division. There’s the lacklustre state election campaign in March which resulted in a mini-swing to the Coalition but allowed the hopelessly inept Labor Government to remain comfortably in office.

There was further controversy and internal division over the pre-selection of Alex Hawke, one of the extreme right’s rising lieutenants, for the safe seat of Mitchell. And don’t forget the costly media fall-out over the pre-selection of Michael Towke as the candidate for the Cronulla-base seat of Cook, where Bruce Baird is retiring at this election. In an unsightly and whiffy process, Towke was stiff-armed out of the race and replaced by Scott Morrison, former managing director of Tourism Australia who, incidentally, was the NSW Liberal director before Jaeschke.

If these accumulated traumas don’t provide enough ammunition for his opponents to take him down, the loss of Bennelong and a handful of other Liberal seats on Saturday will provide the final nail.

Peter Fray

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