December 10, 2023

‘Your rights are at risk’: Liberal factions attack party reforms

By Kishor Napier-Raman and David Estcourt
December 11, 2023 — 4.00am
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Last week, the Herald reported on an email sent by former MP and NSW Liberal president Jason Falinski to the party’s factional warlords, urging them to put their differences aside and get behind a series of reforms to the troubled division.


It didn’t take long for some of those warlords to start revolting. “YOUR RIGHTS ARE AT RISK,” came the thundering email to the party from a group of state executive representatives calling themselves the “members rights” team.

The reform proposals, which include cutting the size of the party’s constitution and the number of state executive members, aim to make the whole joint a bit more friendly and efficient. They weren’t well received.

“Those who’ve been members of this party over the last five years would know all too well …efficiency and reform may be read as taking away more of your rights as members of this division,” the message said.

The email, led off by regional vice-president Geoff Pearson (one of the warlords contacted by Falinski) informed members that the reforms would bring about “the privatisation of the division, disenfranchising you, the members”.

“We need each and every one of you. This is an existential moment for our party,” the rebels said.

The members’ rights mob, often regarded as the party’s new hard right faction (although they hate when we call them that) is affiliated with Matt Camenzuli, the powerbroker expelled last year after unsuccessfully taking Scott Morrison to the High Court over preselection delays before the 2022 election.

That preselection battle was at the heart of the internecine factional meltdown which Falinski’s reform proposals hoped to address.

It doesn’t look like that factional warring is going away any time soon.



Despite raking in millions of dollars from the taxpayer every year, Sydney Catholic Schools aren’t all that good with money. This year, the organisation which oversees schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney was revealed to have paid nearly $400,000 to a consulting firm linked to a person who probably never existed.

On Friday night, the organisation displayed a similar level of generosity to its top brass, with executive director Tony Farley hosting a Christmas cocktail soiree at Sydney’s Fullerton Hotel. With full open bar and all.

Now, we at CBD wouldn’t begrudge anyone for exercising their right to get loose during silly season. But the SCS’ latest event has put a few noses out of joint, given school fees, like just about everything else, have been rising. And according to the organisation’s website, it aims to provide “low-fee Catholic education”. There was certainly nothing budget about their event last week.

A spokesperson for SCS told CBD it was important to “thank and honour” school leaders.

“Our school leaders work exceptionally hard and end-of-year events, similar to those held in workplaces across Australia at this time of year, are just one small way we can recognise them.”


While we’re not yet through with the War on Christmas, some of our favourite culture warriors are already warming up for the next big showdown in the calendar – Australia Day.

Advance, the plucky internet trolls that hit the big leagues by helping tank the Indigenous Voice to parliament, are rallying the troops to defend the January 26 holiday, which has lost a bit of its sheen recently because of the whole celebrating invasion thing.

On Friday, Advance sent around a furious email urging its supporters to get behind the Australia Day Bill introduced by Liberal National backbencher Henry Pike, which aims to stop the day being changed without a plebiscite.


One problem: Pike’s bill was removed from the House of Representatives’ notice paper last month, and is currently listed as “not proceeding” on the Parliament House website.

When we asked Advance whether they were aware of this, their spokesperson appeared to shoot the messenger.

“It is disappointing but not surprising that post the referendum, mainstream media continues its obsession with Advance and a misplaced focus on process rather than policy.”

They also claimed that “in his heart of hearts” Anthony Albanese wants to abolish Australia Day altogether.

“The only reason this bill hasn’t been rushed through parliament is because politicians like Anthony Albanese know their radical left social agenda is out of touch with mainstream Australians.”

For sure.


As federal parliament lurched toward silly season, deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley’s media team lined up one last student-politics-grade stunt for the year, delivering a life-sized cardboard cut out of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the press gallery last week.

Credit: Jozsef Benke

“We hope the Prime Minister comes out of hiding and stops trying to stage-manage you in 2024,” was the message pinned to cardboard Albo, who was decked out in a Santa hat with the label “missing in action” stuck to his chest.

Given our year of getting ghosted by the Prime Minister’s Office, we couldn’t help chuckling. It seemed not everyone saw the funny side, because come Thursday night, cardboard Albo was gone. As Ley’s office frantically searched the gallery for their prop, our suspicions turned to some overzealous lanyard in Albo’s office.

Turns out the real culprit was closer to home – our colleagues at Nine had kept Albo safe and out of trouble for the night, delivering him to his makers on Friday morning.

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Kishor Napier-Raman is a CBD columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Previously he worked as a reporter for Crikey, covering federal politics from the Canberra Press Gallery.Connect via Twitter or email.
David Estcourt – David is a crime and justice reporter at The Age.Connect via Twitter or email.


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