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Absolute control in hands of the Right

By SIMON BENSON State Political Reporter

May 15, 2006

THE NSW Liberal's left wing party leader and one of the last of the key John Brogden supporters has resigned from the powerful state executive, delivering the hard right absolute control of the party.

Sam Witheridge has withdrawn from his seat on the executive, on which Prime Minister John Howard also sits, leaving only three left wing members out of 21.

With more than 75 per cent control of the membership of the executive committee, the conservatives now have constitutional ability to issue emergency powers to control all pre-selections.

Elections for the executive finalised last Friday night, increasing the Right's stranglehold over the party even further.

The moderates, referred to as the Left, lost two of its remaining positions leaving it little more than a rump on a committee that, up until four years ago, it was in control of.

Left members of the party said the election signed the death knell for the faction and cemented the dominance of the Right, which has become increasingly more religion based.

"This leaves little doubt that the Right is now in total control of the party," a senior Liberal source said.

"Their numbers are such that they could decide every preselection.

"And there can be no doubt as they increasingly take over the party, this will be represented in the candidates and the policies of the party."

"They have a greater level of control than I think anyone realises."

The "they" were Nicholas Campbell, vice president of the executive, Upper House MP David Clarke and former president of the young Liberals Alex Hawke (no longer on the executive), the source said.

Apart from Mr Witheridge's departure, two other left-wing members have gone: Sarah Lawrance and Martin Laverty who was a campaign manager for Southern Highlands MP Peta Seaton – another former ally of Mr Brogden.

Trent Zimmerman, a North Sydney councillor was elected to the executive and will sit with Michael Photios, a former Liberal minister and Shoalhaven councillor Gareth Ward as the only three left wing members.

Mr Witheridge was appointed to the executive 14 years ago at age 21. He was a close friend of Mr Brogden, who resigned from Parliament and as leader in August last year amid controversy.

It is understood Mr Witheridge will consider running for a spot on the party's Upper House ticket.

Opposition Leader Peter Debnam, who holds a seat on the executive, said the elections held little interest to anyone other then the media.

"There is no news in this . . . we have a management team that reflects the broad church we are," he said.,20281,19137154-5001021,00.html


"we have a management team that reflects the broad church we are"

Hah. :sleepy: The 'Liberals' might now win government just in time to see in the 'completion' of the 'Action' 2010 'plan'! But that is reaching. Way to alienate potential swing voters (ME). Like federal Labor they must love to LOSE.
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