Battle to replace Ciobo mired in ‘sabotage, dirty tricks’
THE battle to replace Moncrieff MP Steven Ciobo has become mired in a dirty tricks campaign.
LNP party members have been told not to attend next week's preselection meeting as part of an attempt to sabotage the vote which will determine who represents the Coalition at the May federal poll.
Party state director Michael O'Dwyer sent out a letter to LNP members this week
warning them to ignore the messages for them to stay away.
"I am concerned with reports that some members are being contacted and told there is no need for them to attend the preselection," he said.
"I wish to advise that any such advice is patently false and mischievous, and is pedalled by people who do not reflect the LNP's culture.
"As individual members of the LNP, one of the greatest rights you have is to determine who you wish to represent the party as your candidate and, ultimately, your member of parliament.
"Your right to vote at a preselection is equal to every other member and it is imperative that as many members as possible attend the preselection and cast a vote for their preferred applicant."
Party sources told the Bulletin that dirty tricks such as this were a common strategy during preselection battles to deny candidates the votes they need to win.
"It's pretty normal for this kind of thing to happen during a preselection," a long-time Liberal Party figure said.
Mr Ciobo will stand down at the May election after 17 years in parliament.
Eight candidates are in the running to replace him, including city councillor Cameron Caldwell and Ciobo staffer Karly Abbott.
The vote will be held at Carrara's Emmanuel College on April 6 from 8am.
It's not the first time party tricksters have attempted to disrupt a preselection battle for the safe seat of Moncrieff.
The 2001 campaign, which Mr Ciobo won, was remembered for its nastiness and allegations of branch stacking and leaks. Candidates included future state MP Ray Stevens, businessman Ian Solomon and former National Party senator Bill O'Chee.
Mr Soloman's candidacy was hit after a 1983 conviction for passing a counterfeit $100 note was raised in an apparent attempt to force his disqualification.
Retiring Moncrieff MP Kathy Sullivan also launched defamation against Mr Ciobo over an alleged assertion at a party branch meeting that she had a role in the political demise of the late Senator Neville Bonner.
She eventually agreed to withdraw the legal action after the intervention of then-prime minister John Howard.
However, Mrs Sullivan refused to campaign for Mr Ciobo at the 2001 poll.