Liberal fury after vote
LIBERAL right-wingers are furious after the wife of a highprofile lobbyist from the moderate faction won a prized upper house preselection by a controversial eight votes.
Natalie Ward, who quit her job as deputy chief-of-staff to former finance minister Greg Pearce amid controversy over her marriage to David Begg, beat her right-wing rival, KPMG executive Rachel Merton, 66 to 58. This triggered an immediate revolt from the Right, which accused party moderates running the preselection of rigging the votes by only choosing preselectors with “soft questions”.
“There were several preselectors in the room waiting to ask Mrs Ward about whether she felt she had a conflict of interest but they were not asked,” a Right source said.
Ms Ward, whose husband works for PremierState with Liberal kingmaker Michael Photios, had glowing references from senior ministers.
Ms Merton was backed by former prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Howard.