Updated: 7:30 pm, September 17
It’s all over for Tony Abbott — or so they claim. Fairfax boy wonder Bevan Sheilds, who is looking forward to being able to vote for the very first time in the 2019 election, has the scoop:
Tony Abbott has narrowly avoided being kicked out of the blue ribbon seat he has held for 25 years following a backlash fuelled by his role in the demise of Malcolm Turnbull and conservative views on climate change and same-sex marriage.
In an unprecendented challenge that has thrown the spotlight on the former prime minister’s political future, Mr Abbott may have secured just 55 per cent of votes cast during a fiery preselection meeting in his safe Sydney electorate of Warringah…
His competition? This was a very little reported preselection, after all:
Mr Abbott… who ran unopposed.
Oh. Let’s look at the report in detail:
Fairfax Media has been told Mr Abbott – who ran unopposed – was backed by 46 members, while 38 others rejected his renomination to contest next year’s federal election.
So, just one source for the main claim, in other words. One anonymous source.
And wait. There’s more:
When the 46-38 number was put to Mr Abbott on Saturday night, the former prime minister said: “Not correct. I won roughly 70 per cent of the vote.”
NSW Liberal Party figures spent much of Saturday speculating about the result and what might happen next. Fairfax Media has been told by three sources that 46 votes were cast for Mr Abbott, 38 were cast against, and a further nine votes were informal – bringing the total number of members present to 93.
Under party rules, a majority of 50 per cent plus one is required to successfully endorse a candidate. If Mr Abbott did receive just 46 votes, he may have fallen narrowly short of the majority technically required.
But in a sign of the confusion over the vote, another source said there were only two informal votes in the ballot, which if true would mean he exceeded the party rules.
The director of the Liberal Party division in NSW, Chris Stone, would not comment on the outcome or reveal the numbers in the ballot, but a spokesman for the party countered the claim that Mr Abbott had come close to losing.”
Tony Abbott was successfully endorsed by a comfortable majority,” the spokesman said.
So, the only two people on the record — Abbott himself and the spokesman for the NSW Liberals — say the premise the entire piece is based on is false.
The people trying to do Abbott down can’t get their story straight and offer the same set of figures or the same explanation of what they mean.
And what’s wrong with 55 per cent anyway? Fifty-five per cent of the two-party preferred vote was the result scored by one J Malcolm Fraser in 1975, the biggest electoral landslide in the history of the Commonwealth.
Sonny Shields has got terribly excited that the NSW Liberals have released the figures from Friday. He writes:
The NSW Liberal Party says Tony Abbott secured 68 per cent support in his controversial preselection, in a move designed to head off damaging speculation and internal disunity over the former prime minister’s future.
A party spokesman told Fairfax Media on Monday afternoon that Mr Abbott received 68 votes during an endorsement meeting on Friday night, while 30 members voted against him and two lodged informal votes.
The actual number was kept secret from the meeting, triggering angry scenes and two days of division. Some members … are expected to dispute the results released by the party.
He then is forced to admit his weekend reporting was wrong (without really admitting it):
“Nevertheless, given inaccurate information being reported regarding the recent Warringah endorsement meeting, and at the request of the candidate, we advise that Tony Abbott was endorsed with 68 votes for, 30 votes against and two informal votes.”
But then he goes back to his old favourite of the one anonymous source:
A senior party member is weighing up making a complaint about the process and will decide over the coming days whether to lodge it with the NSW Liberal Party director Chris Stone.
And let’s look at his third par as above in full:
Some members believe Mr Abbott received only 46 votes compared to 38 against, and are expected to dispute the results released by the party.
They may also “believe” the moon is made of cheese, or in an international Zionist conspiracy.
It doesn’t mean they’re correct.
Accuracy and fairness, however, doesn’t appear to matter to The Sydney Morning Herald when there are ideological enemies to smear.
Accuracy and fairness and that old saying “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”.
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