20/06/2022 - 10:07

Selfish Libs must stop destruction, says report

20/06/2022 - 10:07


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EXCLUSIVE: An internal Liberal Party document calls out those trying to destroy the party ahead of a crucial meeting.

Selfish Libs must stop destruction, says report
The Liberals constitution and drafting chair Tim Houweling.

A powerful committee of the Western Australian Liberal Party has made a final plea for unity and cultural change ahead of next month’s crucial state conference.

The Constitutional and Drafting Committee has demanded those “who have tried hard to destroy this party” end their selfishness and support sweeping reforms.

“I ask you to carefully reflect whether you have been an agent for change or whether you have just become destructive,” wrote committee chair Tim Houweling in a document obtained by Business News.

“We can lay aside all selfish ambition and become leaders of cultural change.”

But Mr Houweling - the director of Cornerstone Legal and an adjunct professor in law at Murdoch University - warned that some behaviour had become entrenched, referring to party members still stuck in the past.

He said debate at the state conference should not involve "name calling, threats or intimidation".

“I plead with you to re-engage through the legitimate processes of the party,” he wrote.

“This is not a time to sit back and fondly remember days gone by because, with respect, they were not covered in glory.”

The document, prepared by Mr Houweling and his committee, contains 23 possible amendments to the party’s constitution.

It calls for plebiscites to determine candidate pre-selections, introducing key performance indicators for all Liberal politicians and ending the practice of party members being able to pay the fees of others.

In a call for unity, the chair drew on the party’s motives for forming in the late 1940s.

“The question I ask myself over and over again, while I sit laboriously making amendments to the constitution, is this: do we still have it in us to fight the Bolsheviks or have we descended into fighting ourselves? Do we still share the objects of the founding fathers?” Mr Houweling wrote.

The 2021 state election drubbing reduced the party to just two MPs in parliament’s lower house, leaving the Nationals to officially form opposition for the first time in history.

A review of the loss exposed a group called “The Clan”, which was made up of senior Liberal figures, including Peter Collier, Nick Goiran and former federal finance minister Mathias Cormann.

More than 700 pages of WhatsApp messaging between clan members revealed how toxic internal feuding and power plays had become.

“This odious behaviour has shamed the Liberal Party and trashed its reputation,” the review concluded.

“It is contrary to Liberal Party principles and values.”

Mr Houweling says the annual state conference on July 30 and 31, will be a watershed moment for the beleaguered Liberals.

“Never before has there been such sweeping amendment proposed, and no one has championed change to this Party more than the president Mr (Richard) Wilson,” he wrote.

“As the 6th Century BC Greek storyteller Aesop said: united we stand, divided we fall. We are a team, and there is no I in team.”

Given the refusal of any member of the clan to publicly accept the scathing findings of the 2021 election review, the state conference could be a hostile affair.

“Participation in debate is welcome,” Mr Houweling wrote in the constitutional reform document.

“Name calling, threats and intimidation by any member of parliament or member of the party will not be tolerated.

"I encourage you to carefully consider how you can constructively cooperate in the discussion if you wish to do so.”


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