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  • Jason Regan

Judge to rule on NSW Liberals AGM deadline

The constitution of the NSW Liberal Party would be "radically rewritten" if most of its state executive had to cease holding office on Monday, a judge has been told.

A broader federal intervention would allow key federal MPs including Alex Hawke to be preselected. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

The executive last week voted in favour of seeking federal executive permission to allow it to continue to operate until an annual general meeting could be held at the end of March.

It has not been able to organise a state council meeting to select new officeholders because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the federal executive including Prime Minister Scott Morrison instead set a 10-day deadline - until Monday, February 28 - to rectify outstanding issues and endorse sitting federal MPs or face a broader federal step-in.

In response, elected executive member Matthew Camenzuli urgently applied to the NSW Supreme Court seeking a declaration that members of the state executive can continue in office beyond Monday.

Former prominent Liberal right identity, now Liberal Democrat Party senate candidate for NSW John Ruddick, spoke about the situation on Flow on Wednesday - hear the full interview in the FlowNews24 podcast player:

Chief Judge in Equity, Justice Julie Ward, was told of legal advice given to the executive that if the annual meeting was not held by the end of February their constitution would soon be breached.

But Mr Camenzuli's barrister Scott Robertson SC submitted this interpretation would result in a "radically rewritten" constitution. The judge reserved her decision.

Under a broader federal intervention, a committee including federal representatives would choose candidates for the upcoming election.

The move would allow several key federal MPs including ministers Sussan Ley, Alex Hawke and backbencher Trent Zimmerman to be endorsed for the upcoming federal election.

Mr Morrison has previously voiced concern the three MPs have not yet been endorsed, with an election due in May. Earlier this month he accused some in the NSW division of playing "childish games" as he threatened intervention.

In recent years there has been a strong push within the NSW Liberals to allow greater grass-roots involvement in the selection of candidates.


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