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“Two leaks is not a flood”: Libs deny party-room division

Politics

Senior Liberals have played down the second leak in as many months of internal documents detailing the Marshall Government’s re-election strategy, insisting the party has “never been more united”.

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InDaily last month revealed a range of election plans, with Government MPs required to submit a “wishlist” of infrastructure projects for “Target Seats”, which included several Labor-held marginals, Geoff Brock’s mid-north seat of Frome and Mount Gambier, held by former Liberal-turned-crossbencher Troy Bell.

Further electioneering documents prepared for the joint party-room were yesterday sent anonymously to various media outlets, including InDaily and ABC Radio Adelaide.

They detail strategies for “better resourcing”, including directives on strategically transferring MPs’ global allowance payments to marginal and target seats.

The allowance is provided to all MPs to be used at their discretion “to meet certain classes of costs incurred in the reasonable discharge of their duties” – but is generally used for campaigning purposes.

Dated March 23, the joint party paper was prepared by new minister and then-Speaker Vincent Tarzia and fellow frontbencher David Speirs, on behalf of Liberal state director Sascha Meldrum.

“Currently global allowance transfers are occurring on a haphazard basis,” the document reads.

“Generally Safe Liberal Seats with unused global are contracted at the end of the financial year and asked to transfer to marginal seats.”

The directive lists seat “pairing” arrangements attaching Legislative Councillors and members in safe seats to marginal and target seats for campaigning purposes – with the Upper House members told to spend their global allowance in their paired electorates.

“The new pairings will formalise this process whereby 20 per cent of a safe Liberal seat’s global can be quarantined for transfer to a marginal seat,” it says.

“MLCs cannot transfer to MPs, which currently leaves MLCs with the option of putting out communications pieces into Marginal Seats… Due to reasonably restrictive global approval processes in the Upper House, these pieces generally require the MLC’s face and name to be on them, leading to confusion for voters.”

However, it goes on, “MLCs can use their global to communicate with any part of SA, while MPs are restricted to their own electorates… for this reason, by pairing MLCs with Target Seats they are able to use their entitlements to communicate with these seats instead to maintain a Liberal presence.”

Beyond global allowance, “party fund transfers can perform as currently exists, however due to the increased accountability there should be more incentive for Members to deliver funds into their paired seats”, the paper states.

Two members from safe Liberal seats will support a single marginal, while MPs who had previously been categorised as holding “self-sustaining” seats will be paired to provide extra resources for vulnerable electorates.

The “pairs” are given a range of responsibilities, including the “development of a list of, and engagement with, community groups prior to candidate preselections”.

“This will allow for candidates to have someone who can introduce them to local organisations once they are preselected,” it notes.

ABC Radio Adelaide host David Bevan detailed the document on air this morning, asking Liberal frontbenchers Vickie Chapman and Stephen Wade if they were concerned about a spate of leaks of documents prepared for the party-room.

“I don’t think two leaks represents a flood,” Wade said.

“I believe that the party has never been more united as it is under the leadership of Premier Marshall…

“Pairings where Upper House members support Lower House members and candidates is well established in the Liberal Party, but I’m not in the practice of discussing internal party processes.”

Chapman denied there were “unhappy” Liberal members, saying: “We are happy – and I’m very pleased to be part of a team which is delivering.”

“I don’t know who’s unhappy, but I’m not,” she said.

“This is hardly rocket science – of course marginal seats are always targeted by political parties…

“This is information which you’d expect to be protected, but it’s not a document which has got state secrets in it… yes, it was discussed at a party meeting, but it’s not information that’s a state secret.”

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