Opposed to coal mining, Malcolm Turnbull has involved himself further in the controversial Upper Hunter by-election. This will be held on 22 May 2021. Pre-polling is open.

Mr Turnbull is not supporting the Coalition candidate, National David Layzell. Apparently in breach of Liberal Party rules, Mr Turnbull is supporting an independent, Ms. Kirsty O’Connell.

But in the 2004 election for the Sydney blue ribbon Liberal seat of Wentworth, when some Liberals campaigned against him and for the previous sitting member, Peter King, Mr Turnbull was not happy.

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The current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, then the NSW Liberal Party Director, led the prosecution. All were suspended, some for 10 years.

One of those arraigned before the party tribunal, Mr John Paul, warned:

‘’He (Mr Turnbull) will bring the Liberal Party nothing but trouble.’’

Mr Paul resigned before any sentence of suspension could be imposed on him. He cited several similar instances in the past when the party had taken no action. But when it came to those campaigning for Peter King against Mr Turnbull, the party applied the full force of the rules.

Meanwhile in the Upper Hunter ballot draw, Mr Turnbull’s favourite candidate, Ms O’Connell, has won the coveted first place ahead of the other 12 candidates. The Coalition is in fifth place, One Nation fourth, Labor ninth and the Shooters Fishers and Farmers twelfth.

The former sitting member, Michael Johnsen, resigned from the National seat following reports that he sent lewd text messages during Parliamentary sittings. The seat is now considered marginal, with the Premier indicating that she expects to lose.

The question now is whether the Liberal Party will act against Mr. Turnbull as it did over his election to Wentworth?

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Professor David Flint AM is an emeritus professor of law and was chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Press Council, president of the National Federation of the English Speaking Union, Associate Commissioner with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and convenor of the Committee of Australian Law Deans. He has been National Convenor of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy since the 1999 referendum campaign. He has authored books on topics such as the media, international economic law and on the Constitution. At Barcelona in 1991 he received a World Jurist Association award as World Outstanding Legal Scholar. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1995. His Good Sauce show,Take Back Your Country, discusses the problems and solutions to the decay of federalism and democracy.

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