Dore open for changes on Liberal state…


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dore-open-for-changes-on-liberal-state…

The Liberal Party’s troubled NSW division is set to vote in a new state executive at its upcoming AGM after nominations for positions closed this weekend.

The vote comes against the backdrop of a widespread factional civil war, which left the party struggling to preselect candidates until the eleventh hour, and wound up with former executive member Matt Camenzuli taking former prime minister Scott Morrison to court only to be expelled from the party for his troubles.

But renewal is in the air. CBD hears Maria “The Real Eel” Kovacic, the party’s defeated candidate for Parramatta at the last election, is currently favourite to succeed Philip Ruddock as state president, with widespread cross-factional support. That’s disappointing news for fans of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, recently touted as a contender for the role.

Former Liberal candidate for Parramatta Maria Kovacic at Parramatta CBD.Credit:James Alcock

But with the current executive all embroiled, to some degree, in the factional civil war which led to distracting court battles, and preselections delayed until the last minute, those up for re-election are trying to distance themselves from the worst of it.

Alex Dore, an influential former Young Liberal President, wrote to party members this weekend spruiking his successes on executive. One of those was “Liberals for merit”, a campaign against “illiberal gender quotas” – although we wonder how that would’ve helped the party’s problems with female voters at the last poll.

Dore was also proud of his (unsuccessful) fight for plebiscites, which would’ve given party members a greater say in those preselections, and avoided them getting railroaded by senior leaders.

“At the last election, we left a world-renowned surgeon, a former Australian cricketer, and an accomplished state Parliamentarian in the lurch for months while their reputations were publicly traduced,” he said, in reference to the party’s failure to preselect candidates for Dobell, where former test bowler Nathan Bracken was a name in the mix.

“How can we attract high-quality candidates when – 18 months after nominations close – preselections are cancelled and candidates simply imposed?” he wrote.

But Dore himself was one of those candidates hoping to be “simply imposed,” at one point a key chip in a deal which would’ve seen the northern beaches resident parachuted in as the Liberal candidate for Hughes in Sydney’s south, much to the fury of local branch members.

The deal fell apart after failing to get enough support on the executive. Perhaps memories are short.

McGowan’s vapour trail

Mark McGowan may be the undisputed Supreme Leader of Western Australia, but he’s sure been under pretty constant attack from conservatives across the Nullarbor.

And now, following in the footsteps of Scott Morrison and Clive Palmer, the latest potshot has come from an angry global network of vaping advocates.

The McGowan government’s crackdown on retailers selling nicotine e-cigarettes drew an open letter from Legalise Vaping Australia, which was co-signed by the World Vapers Alliance, and pro-vape organisations from as far afield as Congo, Poland and Nigeria, calling for the premier to back off.

Illustration: Joe Benke

The Australian body is an offshoot of the Australian Taxpayers Alliance, both run by colourful former real estate agent Brian Marlow, who signed the open letter, and has influence on the conservative fringes of the Liberal Party.

But in the World Vapers Alliance, McGowan has triggered some interesting enemies. Despite its commitment to pushing vaping as an alternative to smoking, the body is bankrolled by one of the world’s biggest cigarette companies, British American Tobacco.

According to its website, the alliance is backed by the Consumer Choice Centre, which was set up by US-based libertarian activist groups founded on the dime of influential conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch.

While the ATA doesn’t receive Koch funding, it’s begged for money from the US-based billionaires in the past. Perhaps joining forces to attack McGowan might help with that.

Reclusive Brethren

Controversial religious sect the Exclusive Brethren famously dislikes outsiders snooping in its affairs, but this seems like taking things to extremes.

The family of Brethren world leader Bruce Hales have been busy in Sydney’s hot property market, with son Dean Hales breaking the suburb record in Epping with the $7.5 million he splashed out there.

The family also owns several properties on two adjoining streets in nearby Eastwood, a handy walk from the local Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.

But here’s where things get strange. Real estate tragics trying to use Google Maps’ street view to sticky-beak on the Hales’ houses – the one occupied by Bruce is among Epping’s largest properties – will be met with a great big blurred image.

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A Brethren spokesman told us that the blurring of street view images “isn’t uncommon, it’s a provided function of Google Maps and is easy to do. It’s often done by those who prefer to maintain their security and privacy.”

Google confirmed it provided the tools to remove images. “Each Street View image contains a link to our “Report a problem” tool where users can report objectionable images,” a spokesperson said.

Good to know, but we’re uncertain if the Brethren will appreciate the words objectionable to describe their little patch of paradise.

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