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NSW preselections: Liberal Party reopens nominations for Tony Abbott’s old seat

The NSW Liberal Party has reopened nominations for Tony Abbott’s former electorate, several hours after a local branch president sent out a warning that “arrogance and self-interest” could cost the Coalition the election.

Walter Villatora, president of the Condamine branch in Sydney’s northern beaches, on Wednesday night wrote of his “dismay” that the state executive failed to endorse local resident Lincoln Parker as the candidate for Warringah.

It comes in the midst of a drama-filled week for the NSW Liberal Party beginning last Friday when Scott Morrison intervened and temporarily took over control due to factional infighting.

Once the Prime Minister’s term expired at 5pm on Tuesday, it was confirmed that he had endorsed sitting MPs Trent Zimmerman, Sussan Ley and Alex Hawke to run without preselection challenges.

Question Time
Camera IconThe seat of Warringah is held by high-profile independent Zali Steggall. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

About two hours later the NSW division was sent an “urgent” electronic ballot regarding several remaining seats without candidates.

The state executive then voted unanimously in favour of cardiologist Michael Feneley becoming the candidate for Dobell, but 18 members out of 25 voted against Mr Parker being installed.

After the Mr Parker motion failed, the NSW division was sent a second electronic ballot to reopen nominations for two days in Warringah.

It has been confirmed that was passed at noon on Thursday with 21 votes in favour and four non responses.

The member for Warringah is independent Zali Steggall, who ousted Mr Abbott in 2019.

The state executive voted against installing Lincoln Parker as the candidate for Warringah on Wednesday. Supplied
Camera IconThe state executive voted against installing Lincoln Parker as the candidate for Warringah on Wednesday. Supplied Credit: Supplied

It is understood Mr Parker will continue his bid to run for the seat for the Libs, while disability campaigner David Brady is also likely to nominate.

Mr Villatora wrote in his email – sent before the reopening of nominations – that he was “dismayed” Mr Parker had not been endorsed.

“The campaign would have commenced tomorrow morning leaving approximately nine weeks to run an intensive, highly professional campaign against a floundering independent,” he wrote.

He said the party was losing “valuable time”.

Mr Villatora has previously raised concerns about Mr Brady running in the seat, warning members it would be Gilmore 2.0 – a reference to the failed campaign by Warren Mundine, who is from Sydney’s north shore, in the south coast seat.

Liberal Convention
Camera IconWalter Villatora has long supported Lincoln Parker as the candidate. Credit: News Corp Australia

On Wednesday night Mr Villatora also wrote of his concerns that there could be further federal intervention, using strong language.

“The sense of entitlement, the arrogance and self-interest, or is it self-preservation in fear of facing their local members in a preselection, is an enormous contributor to the possibility of losing the election and therefore a threat to our national interest,” he wrote.

“For the Liberal leadership to allow self-interest to contribute to the possibility of a Labor government at a time when we are facing unprecedented national security issues is unconscionable.”

In addition to Warringah, candidates also need to be locked in for Parramatta, Hughes and Eden-Monaro.

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