Businessman Dick Smith has attempted to influence the preselection race for the seat of Mackellar with an advertisement in today’s Australian. Smith has threatened to run against his former schoolmate Bronwyn Bishop if the Liberals preselect the ex-speaker to the seat. While the advertisement doesn’t name Bishop, or the other candidates, it says:
“Please reject the clearly non-democratic party machine. Don’t be manipulated by the factions.”
“Please consider the future of our children and grandchildren when casting your vote to select the Liberal candidate for the seat of Mackellar.”
“I understand that many of you have been told by the Party Machine and the Faction Leaders who to vote for. I point out that you will be involved in a secret vote and that our forefathers fought for the fundamental freedoms in Australia.”
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The advertisement focuses on issues of population growth and the Australian way of life.
The advertisement is an expensive way to reach the 96 preselectors who will decide Bishop’s future on Saturday. Speaking to SmartCompany, Smith said he was still prepared to run against Bishop as an independent should she be preselected by the Libs, and previous polls show he would be a strong chance to take the seat if that came to pass. He also said that he supported Walter Villatora in the Liberal race against Bishop. The Australian reports today that fellow challenger Jason Falinski has the support of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with factional heavyweight Michael Photios telling local party members that Falinski is the preferred candidate of the PM, despite public assurances that he supports Bishop.