Liberal Member of the Victorian Parliament, Ryan Smith announced his resignation from politics and will leave on July 7, triggering a by-election in his electorate of Warrandyte, north-east of Melbourne. He stated that the “growing negative tone of politics” played a part in his decision to quit1. After last year’s election loss by the Liberal Party, Smith indicated he would run for the leadership, but pulled out of the contest to support the unsuccessful candidate Brad Battin1.
Nine Liberals tried for pre-selection to run for Warrandyte and the person who won preselection was Nicole Werner. She was the unsuccessful candidate for the seat of Box Hill at last year’s state election and is also a Business Development Manager at Empower Australia2, a food charity that employs up to 10 people and mainly relies on volunteers3. Empower Australia is a ‘subsidiary’ of Planetshakers Pentecostal church, at which Nicole Werner is a pastor4. So, yet another religious nutter gains preselection for the Liberal Party; this after the debacle of Moira Deeming, who gained a safe upper house seat because, she said, “God arranged it”5. You think they would learn, but no.
Deeming was expelled from the Liberal Party for threatening to sue party leader John Pesutto after she was suspended for 9 months. This was for speaking at an anti-trans rally that was gate-crashed by neo-Nazis, who performed the nazi salute on the front steps of parliament. Deeming maintains that, as part of the compromise deal that saw her suspended, Pesutto had agreed to issue a joint statement that exonerated her of being a Nazi or Nazi sympathiser. Pesutto denies he made such an agreement. It was then that Deeming issued Pesutto with an ultimatum: release a statement by a set time and day, or she would “instruct [her] lawyers to commence legal proceedings”. Bigotry is acceptable, but threatening the leader with legal action was too much for the party, so she was dumped6.
It will be interesting to see the result of the Warrandyte by-election. Some seem to think it will be a test of the leader John Pesutto, but I suspect it will be a test of the wider Liberal party and their congregation of religious nutters, cookers and bigots. Its slide into electoral oblivion will seemingly continue apace.