News Election 2016 Andrews’ branch-stacking saga
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Andrews’ branch-stacking saga

Kevin Andrews
Liberal MP Kevin Andrews was skeptical of the polling. Photo: AAP Photo: AAP
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Melbourne City Council member Stephen Mayne will run against Kevin Andrews in the safe federal Liberal seat of Menzies, with the former Defence Minister embroiled in a branch-staking scandal.

The Victorian wing of the Liberal Party party is investigating whether people were signed up improperly in Menzies.

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News Corp Australia alleges signatures were forged and people were signed up to the party without their knowledge.

Mr Andrews’ electorate officer, Ananija Ananievski, resigned on Friday in the wake of the scandal.

Mr Mayne is a former journalist and shareholder activist who’s run unsuccessfully in previous state and federal elections.

He had already decided to contest Menzies before the branch-stacking story broke.

“How on earth can elderly Macedonian voters be signed up to join the Liberal Party without their knowledge?” he asked on Saturday of the ethnic stacking allegations.

Richard Di Natale
Richard Di Natale hopes Mr Andrews won’t return to Canberra. ABCl

“Surely the pressure will now be on for Andrews to retire amid fears the Liberals could lose Menzies.

“This sort of thing is unprecedented in safe Liberal seats in metropolitan Melbourne.”

The Crikey founder said Mr Andrews should retire after 25 years as the local MP to make way for new talent.

With the number of women in the Liberal ranks set to fall at the upcoming election some powerbrokers are pushing for the former Defence Minister to stand aside in favour of Georgina Downer, Mr Mayne said.

She’s the daughter of former Howard government Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

“If Kevin retires gracefully, or is disendorsed by the requisite two-thirds majority of the Victorian administrative committee, I won’t run in Menzies,” Mr Mayne said in his regular emailed Mayne Report, adding if that didn’t happen he’d be running hard as a “pro-Turnbull liberal independent”.

Victorian Liberal state director Simon Frost has refused to comment on the branch-stacking allegations.

A spokeswoman for Mr Andrews said on Friday it was “a matter for the Victorian Liberal Party”.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to be the guest of honour at Saturday night’s fundraiser for Mr Andrews at the Veneto Club in Bulleen.

Federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale said he hoped Mr Andrews wouldn’t be returning to Canberra.

“If Kevin Andrews had to farewell the parliament, the parliament would be better for it,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“This is a man who has stood alongside far-right conservative groups on so many issues.

“If Kevin Andrews joins Bronwyn Bishop and many others in leaving the Liberal Party, that will be a good thing for the parliament.”

Senator Di Natale said Mr Andrews had blocked euthanasia legislation in the Northern Territory and backed the gambling industry to prevent poker machine reform.

The Greens leader argued if corrupt conduct was proven “then of course he (the Menzies MP) should have to resign his position from the parliament”.

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