Finally, Tony Abbott has a win as he takes on 'factions'
A TRIUMPHANT Tony Abbott last night declared the Liberal Party was finally wrenching power away from "factional hacks", after his one-member-one-vote push scored a decisive victory.
The former prime minister last night insisted the move was "not about me" after rank-and-file members overwhelmingly voted at a special party reform convention in favour of his "Warringah motion", which would allow ordinary Liberal members a say in who gets to run for office.
The proposal would mean preselections for candidates would be decided by plebiscites in which each member would get a direct vote in deciding who stood at the election, including for seats occupied by sitting MPs.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph after his charge to water down the influence of factional bosses within the party proved a success, Mr Abbott said it was time to steer away from the current "insiders club" that involves "rorting, racketeering and factioneering".
"We won't have factional stitch-ups putting factional hacks into safe seats," he said.
"This is a huge rebuff to the faction bosses. It'll mean a bigger, stronger Liberal Party and it will mean more talented, more representative people going into Parliament as Liberals."
Those on the other side of the argument, such as federal MPs Alex Hawke and Julian Leeser, attempted to put up alternative motions at the convention, which were effectively diluted versions of the Warringah motion.
"The people on the other side wanted a few tentative steps in the right direction and the party said 'let's embrace it - let's go all the way to being a party that the members can be proud of'," Mr Abbott said.
The motion will eventually need to get the final tick of approval from the party's state council, though the process could open it up to changes given the moderate and centre-right's influence there.
A senior Liberal source hinted that while it was now accepted that the party had "endorsed plebiscites", state council may look at tinkering with specifics such as the amount of time a person has to be a party member before they are allowed to participate in a plebiscite.
Mr Abbott's campaign for reform began in late 2013, but picked up steam last year. The former PM said faction bosses had tried their hardest to stifle the reform, charging ordinary members $150 to attend the convention.
The battle over party democratisation was often framed as a showdown between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Abbott, though Mr Turnbull poured cold water on that on Saturday when he spoke in broad favour of plebiscites.