LIBERAL Senator Gary Humphries has put up a defiant front after recently re-elected Zed Seselja announced he will challenge him for the number one spot on the ACT Liberals’ Senate ticket.Seselja today confirmed he will stand down as ACT Opposition Leader, following months of speculation that he would make the move to federal politics after narrowly losing the Territory election in October.
At a press conference this afternoon, Humphries said he welcomed Seselja’s decision to contest, but will “fight vigorously” to retain his seat.
“The Liberal Party is a democratic party, in the ACT every member who qualifies to vote is entitled to nominate if they wish to,” he says.
“[But] I have to say, I believe I am the better candidate for that position and I will fight vigorously to once again represent the Liberal Party in the Senate.”
Seselja said he reached the decision to challenge after “much consideration” during the summer holidays.
“I’m taking this step because I believe I’m the best person to represent the ACT and the ACT Liberal Party in the federal parliament…it is the right path for me,” he said.
“In the end, you’ve got to make decisions, and renewal is important in political parties.“Probably Gary would prefer that I didn’t challenge… but these things are a democratic process.”
He denied he was deserting the party and the voters of Brindabella. Seselja only moved from the central seat of Molonglo to Brindabella at the last election and was the southern seat’s highest vote-getter.
“I’ve served the party for over five years as leader, and I will continue to serve the people of Brindabella,” he says.
“I am seeking to serve the people of Tuggeranong as a Senator for the ACT, I certainly would continue that focus and serve the people in the outer suburbs.”
Seselja said he “doesn’t know” if he has the numbers, but “certainly believes” he has a strong level of support.
Meanwhile, Seselja said the Liberal Assembly would be subject to a party room vote for a new leader next Monday.
Liberal nominations for the ACT’s Senate ticket close today and pre-selection is expected to be held on Saturday, February 23.