Last week, erstwhile PM Tony Abbott tried and failed — again — to pass the “Warringah motion”, which would grant more control over preselections to rank-and-file New South Wales Liberal Party members. Much of the media reporting on the issue focused on the key players, but missed some of the politics, before disappearing entirely under the Barnaby Joyce saga.
The Warringah motion is most commonly spruiked as a way to ensure greater democracy within the Liberal Party by taking a one-member, one-vote approach to preselections. The idea is to give party members in a given seat, a vote in each preselection for that seat, and to give members across the state a vote in upper house preselection. Instead, a compromise “Bennelong motion” was passed, which granted party members some control of lower house preselection, despite the criticism of at least one minister. While newly installed Senator Jim Molan was “personally disappointed”, Abbott struck a slightly disingenuous note in “urging members not to quit over the loss”.