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Remember the Warringah Motion? Neither do the Liberal Party!

This is a little piece I penned (and published) in 2018 when the Liberal Party in NSW were trying to make their pre-selection process more democratic. It was known as the Warringah Motion and was driven by Tony Abbott, and it was adopted. This meant that the pre-selection of candidates would be a matter for individual branches without federal interference or factional stacking.

That worked out well, didn’t it ?

The Liberal Party is nothing if not democratic : perhaps it’s closer to being nothing after what happened over the Craig Kelly preselection for the NSW seat of Hughes.

Last year the Liberal party in NSW voted on what came to be known as the Warringah Motion sponsored by Tony Abbott and vigorously supported by temporary senator, Jim Molan.

The so-called Warringah motion was designed to reform the Liberal preselection process and ensure a members’ plebiscite to select candidates for state and federal seats in NSW. The motion passed 748 votes to 476 at a party convention in Sydney in July last year.

Tony Abbott emerged victorious from the NSW Liberal Party convention after his motion to give party members a greater say in selecting candidates was passed. “This, gives grassroots members more power in selecting candidates,” Abbott said. He went on to say that it would create a more democratic Liberal Party and end the potential for corruption : “It’s a clear road ahead to one member one vote preselections, a clear road ahead to a democratic political party which is controlled by its members not by lobbyists, not by factionists, not by strong pullers.”

“I think this is a great day for the NSW Liberal Party. And because it’s been a great day for the NSW Liberal Party, I think it will be good for our Government in Canberra and I think it will be very good for Australia” Abbott concluded.

So, a jubilant Tony Abbott must have been a bit non-plussed when this new era of democratic preselections was thrown under a bus at the first available opportunity, essentially to preserve a numpty by the name of Craig Kelly who is nominally the member for Hughes in the federal parliament. Nominally because he seems to spend more time waffling on the Sky-after-dark Muppet Show than he does making a useful contribution to our parliament.

When the preselectors in Hughes were showing signs of getting themselves a decent local member in the lead up to the 2019 election, Kelly made it known that if he was dumped by the grass roots membership, he would go to the cross-benches for the remainder of this parliamentary term and further erode the authority of this already lame minority government ; perhaps even bring the government down .

Our prime minister acknowledging the power of the Right, in an act of desperation, capitulated and decided that expedience was the way to go and that preselections by the grass roots Liberal membership was all very well but only when they do as they are told. Clearly in Hughes they were not prepared to preselect Craig Kelly, so our action-man prime minister quite incredibly called on the NSW Liberal party executive to scrap all democratic processes and re-endorse all sitting members – including of course, Kelly – without the need for the messy and inconvenient involvement of the party membership : and that’s just what they did.

Ironically, the Warringah Motion was promoted as broadening the democratic processes within the Liberal party which in turn it was thought would boost branch membership, a win win it was suggested.

The question is, when the executive of a political party are prepared to scrap their own democratic principles and processes to appease threats of blackmail from a person like Craig Kelly, is that the sort of party with which you would wish to associate yourself ?


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  1. Aortic

    In reply to your last para, the short answer is NO.

  2. Michael Taylor

    The Liberal Party: where democracy goes to die.

    (Hey, I like that 😀).

  3. New England Cocky

    Don’t worry too much about Craig “piggy” Kelly, the real force in the NSW Liarbal Party is Michael Photios, chief numbers man and distributor of pre-selection favours.

  4. nonsibicunctis

    The [Un] Liberal Party is not only misnamed, being as it is far from the true meaning of ‘liberal’ but it is and has always been undemocratic.

    In itself, that would not necessarily be a bad thing because there is massive confusion about what ‘democracy’ actually means and how it can be achieved. The appropriate mix of structure, inclusivity, representation, and curbs on abuse of power that sits somewhere between anarchy and autocracy or dictatorship has, to the best of my knowledge, never yet been achieved.

    All institutions and organisations have a finite life and travel through a cycle from the heady momentum of establishment and growth that comes from the perceived need for it, until it reaches its zenith and then, perhaps rapidly, perhaps slowly, but inevitably falls into decline. Admittedly, neither the upward nor the downward trajectories are likely to be without fluctuation and despite that ‘life-cycle’, it is possible that at some point the institution or organisation may change enough or ‘re-invent’ itself such that it gains a new lease on life – is ‘born again’, if you will.

    Our Liberal Party has never had real strength or adequate democratic ideals and without coalition would have sat in the wilderness or almost certainly died a long time ago. Our Liberal Party is and has always been elitist in ideology and practice. Without doubt, what strength and growth it has had has been largely a product of post colonial inherited privilege and the continuing ties to an obsolescent, parasitic and anachronistic monarchy on the one hand and to the rapid rise of puerile and profit driven consumerism that has permeated our society since WWII.

    The recent mess has come about because the Liberal Party has never been a ‘broad church’, despite that being a constant claim. Indeed, it is a silly description because no church is ‘broad’, notwithstanding the general, rather than ecclesiastical definition of ‘catholic’. In its earlier years, it wasn’t so noticeable or of sufficient concern that the Liberal Party ideology was one of illiberal democracy because the population was generally not well educated, there was little diversity in positions of influence and power, and people were accustomed to living subservient to an elitist and hierarchical social structure in which they were socialised to “know their place.”

    In contrast, the last half century has seen an increasingly educated community, regardless of social background. It has seen massive increase in diversity both accross the population and within business, all levels of government and positions of authority. Women have become increasingly vocal and assertive in challenging ‘invisibility’ and discrimination. The continuously increasing accessibility to technology allowing the flow of ideas across the World and between individuals whether in the same city or at opposite sides of the globe has drastically increased an awareness of and improved understanding of alternative life-styles, religions, political and social situations and systems.

    The result of this is that the Liberal Party now finds itself with a membership encompassing much more disparate ideas and virtually only the narrow and obnoxious focus on wealth as a common bond. Ideology has largely been replaced by greed and acquisition of wealth as the raison d’être for membership or support of the Liberal Party. As this is also what our socialisation encourages most of us to see as a reasonable or even valuable motivation, it is largely neutralised as a significant differentiator among Liberals or indeed the population generally.

    So, the result of this is that, leaving aside personal ambition & access to wealth, the Liberal Party has members who collectively have an increasingly varied range of views and attitudes that I would suggest now range from those that are truly ‘liberal’ [now associated with ‘lefties’, ‘bleeding hearts’, and ‘carefree welfare manipulators’] to those who remain devoted to the irrational stupidity and privileged access of monotheism, hereditary monarchy, honorary titles, titular positions, absurd rituals and paternalistic dogmatism.

    No wonder then that the Party is in a mess. I doubt very much that it has another 50 years in it, however with the continued failure of our own and so many other governments to effectively act to inhibit emissions and prevent further global warming, perhaps none of us will survive to see its demise.

  5. Vikingduk

    Akin to news corpse — where the truth goes to die. They suit each other.

  6. Peter F

    It’s not over yet: watch this space.

  7. helvityni

    Heart-warming: Our young school kids want the Government to deal with the urgent issue of the climate change.

    Heart-sinking: Cavenan calls them future dole bludgers.

    What an ugly way of viewing the world, no wonder we are standing still, belittle and crush the progressive voices.

  8. Kronomex

    “The Democratic Liberal Dunce Party of the Democratic Republic of ‘straya”?

  9. David Evans

    BREAKING NEWS:….. Rumors abound around Canberra that the Coalition is about to make a major announcement: It is believed that it will henceforth be known as the DEMOlition “government” not coalition “government”. It is believed to be a more suitable name, more in line with their policies, as c-o-a-l was believed to have been responsible for them losing appeal to voters.

  10. David Evans

    BREAKING NEWS:….. Rumors abound around Canberra over the last few days that the Coalition is about to make a major announcement: It will henceforth be known as the DEMOlition “government” not coalition “government”. It is believed to be a more suitable name, more in line with their policies, as c-o-a-l was believed to have been responsible for them losing appeal to voters.

  11. Cool Pete

    Well, it is clear that the Liberal Party IS factionalised and IS controlled by the lunar right. If Not-So-Vaguely Smelly is the best candidate they can come up with and capitulate to, heaven help them. Still, how ironic that the author of the Warringah Motion is a bog shite.

  12. Zathras

    When American school children took a public stand and protested over US gun control laws after yet another recent mass-shooting, government pollies and commentators were falling over each other to praise them and shout about it being “democracy in action” and how wonderful it was to see them taking responsibility for their own future.

    Fast-forward a few months and change the subject to Climate Change and they suddenly become inconsiderate rebels whose minds have been polluted by Lefty teachers.

    In Australia we call this sort of cognitive dissonance “business as usual”.

  13. ChristopherJ

    Thank you Terrence. Craig Kelly is a vile human being and a big climate change liar.

    If the Liberal party (which is all about letting the rich get richer, ie no regulation) had any decency, such people would never get within a bulls roar of preselection.

    Let the members decide? Seems like a good idea

    Oh and thank you nonsibicunctis, very perspicacious, and no I don’t think we will be around much longer. They are still denying climate change even after the 94 yo Attenborough yesterday…

  14. helvityni

    Zathras, indeed, “business as usual”.

    I loved reading and hearing about the brave American school kids demonstrating over their country’s gun control laws, but at the same time I was afraid that some lunatic will start shooting them, ‘don’t tell me what I can do , or NOT do….’

  15. Frank Smith

    Perhaps Jane Prentice, the disendorsed Liberal Member for Ryan should threaten to “cross the floor”.

  16. Kronomex

    The right wing nut jobs control the LNP so, in my view, the “conscience vote” Scummo is proposing will be a waste of time.

    Another brain fart by a man who is seems bent on wreaking as much havoc as possible on the country as he can until he and his carnival of fools are removed at the election.

    It’s all Labor’s fault ’cause they won’t blindly fall into line with the Born-to-Rule Party.

  17. jake

    all liberal selections are done on merit – of course they are – another proof of the complete farce this appalling group of clowns are making of government – each day you think they can’t get worse but by 10am they’ve done it again

  18. Harry

    Survival is all that counts now so whatever it takes.

  19. DrakeN

    Look – all of you; the whole effort by the Liberal and National Parties is allocated to keeping the ALP out of office.
    It was the intention of that outstanding hypocrite (Sir) Robert Menzies when he gathered together the capitalist factions into one ‘broad church’ to limit the effectiveness of the socialistically minded who were minimising their inherent greed and assumption of their birthright to manage the country’s affairs.
    Power for Power’s sake: Power to utilise the nation’s natural wealth and that of the workforce for self aggrandisement and financial gain.
    Power to keep the hoi polloi in their proper place as servants of the already rich and powerful.
    ‘Tis all.

  20. Kronomex

    Power mad enough to find some way of declaring martial law if they could get away with it? Because at the moment that’s about the only way they can stay in charge. Their self destruction and wrecking the country just about guarantees their removal at the election.

  21. paul walter

    One word stands out.


    Getting a narrow and unrelated to reality idea up regardless of efficacy, regardless of who is harrned,

  22. Michael Taylor

    Terry, some articles are timeless. This is one of them.

  23. Terence Mills


    The more things change, the more they stay the same !

  24. Hotspringer

    Bugger the Warringah motion, remember the Engadine motion.

  25. Terence Mills

    It appears that the Supreme Court of NSW have handed a hospital pass the the Liberal Party Branch structure in NSW. The federal players were expecting that, as the NSW Branch had not had its AGM within 90 days of 30 November (i.e 28 February 2022) then the state executive would cease to hold office and the federal Liberals could step in and appoint their own candidates thus bypassing the state branches.

    The Supreme Court have knocked that argument on the head and the NSW branches, if they move quickly, can nominate their own candidates. But if they are tardy about it or allow factional matters to delay the process further there is still the possibility of a federal takeover

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