Humphries has represented the ACT in the Senate for 10 years and is supported by his Federal leader Tony Abbott.
Seselja, a former Liberal Opposition Leader in the ACT House of Assembly, broke the unchallenged convention of not standing against a sitting senator and nominated in the final hour before pre-selections closed earlier this month, effectively precluding Humphries’ supporters from being eligible to vote in the party preselection process.
Seselja is believed to have won this morning’s ballot 114 to 84 votes.
Former party president Gary Kent, a Humphries supporter, has gathered the requisite number of party members’ signatures on a petition to force the party to hold a meeting in coming weeks to consider overthrowing this morning’s vote and beginning the preselection process again. More than two thirds of the party’s membership have been deemed ineligible to take part in the preselection process.
The entire ACT Liberal parliamentary party came out in support of Seselja’s push, despite Humphries being supported and endorsed by Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. ACT Deputy Opposition Leader Alistair Coe was quickly on Twitter congratulating his former leader.
Prominent Liberal Party supporter Dianne Anderson, who campaigned heavily for the election of now-Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson, left the meeting with a “Shame Zed’ sign and dismissed the process as “disgusting”.
Speaking to “CityNews” she said the process had been ambushed by the Young Liberals and was hopeful the forthcoming party meeting would get Humphries back to the top spot on the Senate ticket.
She said that during this morning’s meeting she had challenged Seselja to seek preselection for the seat of Canberra instead. While currently held by Labor’s Gai Brodtmann, Canberra was believed to be within reach, with the Liberal Giulia Jones having pared back the Labor margin at the last federal election.
Mrs Anderson believed the public brawling and the process had damaged the Liberal Party’s chances of getting a Senate seat at the September poll giving The Greens their best shot at a Senate spot from the ACT.
Meanwhile, lawyer Elizabeth Lee, a candidate for Molonglo at October’s ACT election, looks certain of a second hiding after winning the preselection for the Federal seat of Fraser, currently held by Labor’s Andrew Leigh with one of the safest margins in Australia.