Concerned Liberals Special
Dear Liberal Party member,
We are now approaching another year of Chairman Clark’s personal rule of the Victorian Liberal Party. The Australian newspaper on the 24th of October reported that Chairman Clark and comrades have been “’milking’ the pandemic to retain control of the administrative committee”. We feel this is shockingly underhanded and undemocratic.
Mr Clark has presided over a massive slump in Party funds inherited from the sale of 104 Exhibition Street. The Administrative Committee has recklessly wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars publicly airing the Party’s dirty linen and is effectively penalising members for legitimately encouraging their family and friends to join the Party.
They have further announced they wish to restrict or ban office bearers from the normal use of Membership Records as if it is suspicious that volunteers access details after hours. Branch officers are not paid and our meetings are often after hours. It is now dangerous for members of the Party or Branches to communicate and apparently even the use of Liberal logos are now banned by Chairman Clark’s regime.
Rhetoric about drastic changes to the Party Constitution (revised by Ian Quick) continues to feature in the screeds of Robert Clark. From many quarters across the Party the view is that Robert has begun to bring the Party into serious disrepute. Our assessment is that Robert’s position is untenable. The following is an open letter we have unanimously supported:
Dear Robert Clark,
We have lost faith in you. Please resign.
You were elected promising to unite our Party, instead we are more divided and self-focussed than ever.
You have lost the support of Josh Frydenberg MP, Greg Hunt MP, the Federal Parliamentary Party and many of your former colleagues in the State Parliamentary Party.
We are compelled to call on your resignation because of the Party wide emails you sent on the 27/11/20 and again on 17/12/20. Those emails have served as a damaging distraction in the media and brought our Party into disrepute.
Both emails were filled with profligate allegations and your personal interpretations. We believe both emails were sent to justify your investigation, which has failed to identify systemic and significant constitutional breaches or branch stacking.
You have declared that a constitutionally valid transfer of membership now represents a “deliberate circumvention of the Party’s constitution” or “branch stacking”. This is your interpretation, not a finding of KordaMentha. Your pretentious posturing is somewhat hypocritical, considering you chose to deliberately circumvent three valid petitions calling for an emergency State Council and a ballot on your position as President.
You have declared that you wish to “ensure the integrity of the Party’s membership records”, while at the same time supporting the election of Ian Quick as your Vice President who regularly published and circulated the damaging “Quick News” to thousands of members prior to the 2018 State election loss.
You have surmised that after-hours access to membership records is tantamount to breaching the Party’s Constitution, moreover you have impugned most of the secretariat staff by alleging they have inappropriately accessed the Party’s database. One would consider this a fairly standard practise for “Party staff members undertaking field work”.
The only substantive finding of the KordaMentha enquiry relates to the improper payment of membership fees. You say this is 170 memberships over the period of five years. Why not disclose how many of these are current members, and how many of these 170 have been multiple payments for the same member over those five years? You did not hesitate to provide in depth figures to justify your claims about “warehousing”.
There is a wide view among the membership that suspects the number of current members who have been improperly paid for is much less than 170. Your decision to inflate findings and present constitutional processes as breaches are acts of desperation to justify your decision to undertake this investigation.
The four key subjects of your investigation – Kevin Andrews MP, Michael Sukkar MP, Mr Marcus Bastiaan and Mr Alex Lisov – have been cleared of wrongdoing leaving you with few scapegoats and a very large bill from KordaMentha.
Most concerning however is your conclusion which attempts to smear Party volunteers for the State election loss. As a shadow minister you were a senior member of the team that devised policy and ran the campaign. Blaming your loss on the Party organisation is reprehensible.
The Liberal Party has not paid a “heavy price” for 170 illegitimate membership payments, it has paid a heavy price for electing you as President.
We also recommend you support our request that the Administrative Committee accept Mr Clark’s resignation.
These concerns need to be voiced because we are facing years of fading opposition in this State. We need to return to sense and erudite leadership. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions”. Bad governance should always be scrutinised by proper and reasonable opposition.
Uncertainty has sapped the morale of the Victorian Liberal Party. We also hear compelling accusations of wrongdoing by powerbroker and Robert Clark ally Karina Okotel, who by some reports is running the Victorian Liberal Party. There are discussions about a Party official in Indi who recently paid for some new members to join their FEC, and a powerbroker in Dunkley who forged signatures on new members’ application forms. Are these allies of Robert Clark being investigated for these alleged breaches, or is the Star Chamber designed to only purge the Party of true Liberals? Are we corrupt like the Victorian Labor Party?
Our Committee encourages your Branches to discuss these matters, and to reinforce our commitment in upholding our Federal representatives. We are an informal group of Liberals who value good governance and accountability. We were formed in response to concerns arising from the management of our Party. Most of our members have been involved in the Party for decades.
Party members have shared your contact details with us, and if you wish to be removed from our lists, please let us know. If you did not wish to receive our correspondence, we apologise for including you. We have chosen not to publish our names as the Party’s current Administration has declared communications such as Concerned Liberals are punishable by expulsion.
Yours in Liberal fellowship,
Concerned Liberals Committee