Lib­eral fury af­ter vote

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - LINDA SILMALIS

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.

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