Liberals debate major reforms at historic State Party convention in Perth, after two disastrous elections

Western Australia’s most senior Liberal today declared a “D-Day” for the beleaguered party, calling on members to support substantial reforms to its pre-selection process.

After two disastrous electoral defeats at both the state and federal levels, Senator Michaelia Cash was the first for the party to address a historic state convention.

At the top of the agenda of the event is reforming the party’s pre-selection process, taking control out of powerbrokers and giving individual members more say.

The proposal was recommended in a scathing review of the party’s defeat in last year’s state election, but party president Richard Wilson has put forward a slightly watered-down version.

Others within the party – which call themselves the Liberal Reform Coalition – have put forward a stronger version of the reforms up for debate, limiting the number of people outside the electorate who can vote for candidates.

Michaelia Cash head shot
Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash told the convention she hopes to return to Canberra with her head held high. ,ABC News: Kean Bourke,

Speaking to media outside the event, Senator Cash indicated that she supports the more-strong version, but would vote for the underwater one if necessary.

She said, “I will also support the amendment and even if it does not arise, I am supporting the reform. Full stop. That’s all.”

As today’s convention began, Senator Cash sought to inspire party loyalists wounded by two disastrous election results, speaking about members’ shared belief in “Liberal Party values” and a three-year plan to back the government. Of.

Senator Cash spent much of his speech criticizing the Albany government, including the withdrawal of the Australian Building and Construction Commission’s powers.

However, before beginning a video message from Federal Liberal leader Peter Dutton, who could not attend due to family commitments, Senator Cash clarified his feelings on the reform.

“I hope that when I arrive in Canberra tomorrow I can hold my head high and know that the Liberal Party of Western Australia has voted for reform,” she said, “that our party has voted to replace Australia has voted for Westerners to say: ‘We have heard. We have learned. We are moving forward and we are focused on winning a government in three years’ time’.

Peter Dutton speaking on the big screen at the convention
In his video address, Federal Liberal leader Peter Dutton urged the party to come together and focus on winning the next election. ,ABC News: Kean Bourke,

In his address, Mr Dutton listed the achievements of the previous coalition government over nine years in power, before urging members to “come together, to make sure we are strong as a party”.

“Not to look back, but to make sure we can embrace ourselves, our values ​​and not shrink from them,” he said.

Michaelia Cash head shot
Former West Australian Premier Colin Barnett was among those in attendance. ,ABC News: Kean Bourke,

Mr Dutton said he was confident his party could bring Western Australia “the home of the Liberal Party, and in large numbers” at the next election.

Women ‘instruments’ in the success of liberals

In place of Mr. Dutton, Confederate Deputy Leader Susan Lay gave the address of the individual leader, drawing on the history of the Liberals to inspire hope in the members.

Ms Lay described how the party was formed after the 1943 federal election, when Labor held nearly 80 percent of the seats in the lower house, including all seats in Western Australia.

Six years later, Robert Menzies led the party to a “tremendous victory”, capturing a majority of seats in Western Australia, he reminded attendees.

“It can be done, but it can only be done if we stay disciplined, if we stay true to our beliefs, and if we make every effort to win over each of us in this room again.” Be determined.” said Ms. Le.

Susan Le speaking on stage
Federal Liberal Party deputy leader Susan Lay told the convention that women would be critical to the party’s future success. ,ABC News: Kean Bourke,

After last year’s review found that women were “not adequately represented in the organization or the parliamentary wing of the party”, Ms Lay highlighted the role of women in party formation.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that the Liberal Party cannot be a party of women,” she said.

“We were. We are. We will be in the future. There is work to be done now, but women were instrumental in building our party and they will be vital to our future success.”

Ms Lay also spent time criticizing the current state government, declaring that it was a “shame” to leave Western Australia’s agriculture minister, Alanna McTiernan, in cabinet, following her comments on foot-and-mouth disease. Afterwards.

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