Former Wagga Wagga Liberal Party president Colin Taggart will run for the Australian Conservatives in the NSW election, after quitting the Liberals in protest of the party not running a candidate for Wagga.
The Liberal party lost the seat for the first time in six decades to Joe McGirr at a by-election in September.
Snowy Valleys Councillor Julia Ham was the Liberals candidate and Taggart claimed the Nationals had undermined her campaign, in the knowledge that if the Liberals lost the by-election, they wouldn’t run at the subsequent general election.
“I was very disappointed that there is not a Liberal Party candidate running for Wagga in March and I believe that people should be given an option to register a vote for liberal and conservative values,” he said.
“The Australian Conservatives provide that choice because we share the similar values of personal responsibility and free enterprise combined with a commitment to strong families and civil society.”
Mr Taggart says he is very disappointed the NSW Liberal Party “has not fully democratised”.
“It is therefore in grave danger of losing contact with the grassroots – those who are expected to pay up, show up and shut up may not continue to give time and money to a party which doesn’t represent their concerns,” he said.
“An example of that disconnect is the effective de-selection of Senator Molan and Peter Phelps, who were both great assets to the party and the parliament – both cruelly carved up in factional self-absorbed infighting.”
Mr Taggart is not likely to support any attempts to demerge the Tumut and Tumbarumba councils, or others that have merged.
“I cannot see how it would be cost effective for the ratepayers to de-merge at this stage,” he said.
He’s not a fan of the National Party.
“The National Party does not and cannot represent Liberal voters in Tumut,” he said.
“They cannot be trusted to support a Liberal Government as they cross the floor when it suits them.
“Their threats to join with Labor and have Daryl Maguire expelled from Parliament despite the fact that he had not been charged or convicted caused a by election for which the Liberals were ill-prepared and contributed to the defeat.
“This along with the well documented treachery of National Party members who sabotaged and undermined the September by election campaign shows the contempt for their Liberal ‘partners’ – Liberals should not reward their betrayal with a vote in March.
Mr Taggart is confident of polling well in Wagga in the election.
“The Liberal Party received early 25,000 votes (in Wagga) at the last general election and I hope that many of those people will vote for the Australian Conservatives,” he said.
The Australian Conservatives will launch their campaign tonight (Friday) at the Riverina Club in Wagga.
The Australian Conservatives was started by senator Cory Bernardi, who broke away from the Liberal Party.
The Nationals have pre-selected Mackenna Powell to run, while Dan Hayes will front the Labor campaign.