Six months of backdoor deals and in-fighting in Maitland’s Liberal Party branches has resulted in no candidates being endorsed for the September local government elections.
Liberal sources have told the Mercury the state executive of the party will not endorse candidates for the election following the betrayal and bad blood that has erupted between members, leaving the party in pieces.
The 20 state executive members – including NSW Liberal Party president Arthur Sinodinos and state director Mark Neeham – will vote within the next two weeks to confirm their decision before it is released to the public.
Sources said members are divided into two camps – one in support of Philip Penfold and the other behind Bob Geoghegan and Stephen Mudd.
Cr Penfold’s supporters have maintained their stance against Cr Geoghegan and Cr Mudd, despite Cr Penfold’s announcement he will run as an independent mayoral candidate.
Cr Geoghegan and Cr Mudd had been on Cr Penfold’s hit list with backdoor deals being done to try to prevent the councillors being selected for the Liberal line-up at the next election.
Cr Geoghegan wrote to NSW Liberal Party president Arthur Sinodinos about the back-stabbing within the branch and his intention to run as an independent.
This letter was forwarded from Senator Sinodinos’ office to Maitland MP Robyn Parker and Paterson MP Bob Baldwin.
Ms Parker spoke to Cr Geoghegan who confirmed he would not run as a Liberal and Ms Parker said she would stop him from being allowed to quit the party, according to sources.
Ms Parker could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
Sources also said Cr Geoghegan attended the state executive meeting in Sydney last Friday and asked that candidates not be endorsed.
But he denied this when the Mercury contacted him yesterday.
“I cannot discuss the private conversations I have been having,” Cr Geoghegan said.
“I would not be surprised if they do not endorse candidates, it is not my call, I have no voting rights at all, it is up to the state executive.”
Mr Baldwin and Ms Parker also attended the meeting and stated their views on the team for the election.
Mr Baldwin confirmed this, but denied Cr Geoghegan attended.
“Robyn and I both put forward solutions to the issue; we were talking about what best suits the local area,” he said.
The NSW Liberal Party told the Mercury on Monday a decision about any endorsements would be available on Wednesday, but when contacted yesterday, a spokeswoman said there was no indication of when a decision would be made. She said the party was dealing with more important business.
Cr Lisa Tierney remained tight-lipped about her future and said it was an internal party matter.
Sources said she was trying to convince Cr Geoghegan to run under the Liberal flag after a massive fall out with Cr Penfold.
Cr Tierney and Cr Penfold had held closed-door meetings about dumping Cr Geoghegan and Cr Mudd in the past few months.
The fall-out is tipped to hit every Maitland Liberal Party member.
“People are going to resign from the party and move to another branch,” a source said.
“There will be a lot of repercussions from this in-fighting.
“The bureaucrats are not just in Sydney, they are in the Maitland branch and it will be interesting to see who is going to stay in that branch.
“The party is in pieces.”