Malcolm Turnbull is reportedly set to support a push to democratise the Liberal Party in NSW, as former leader Tony Abbott warns corruption could fester without reform.
The Prime Minister will join forces with NSW Premier Mike Baird in calling for changes around factions and lobbyists ahead of the party’s annual general meeting next week, according to a Fairfax report.
In a recorded message due to be played at a democratic reform conference in Sydney on Saturday, Mr Turnbull is expected to argue being a Liberal member needs to “count for more”.
“We need to have parties where our members are given more of an opportunity to have their voices heard and valued,” Mr Turnbull says in the recording, obtained by The Australian.
“They need to know that their views are important and all members are given a fair say in both policy formulation and the decision-making processes of their party.
“That means we have to explore the need to hold more open party forums, more frequent and direct access to MPs, it means more open delegate selection and preselection process.”
The message comes as Mr Abbott warns there could be corruption within the NSW Liberals if changes to preselection are not made.
“I want to see much less factionalism within the Liberal Party,” Mr Abbott told Fairfax Media.
“There is a potential for corruption when you’ve got people making money out of people whose preselections they can control or heavily influence.”
Former Prime Minister John Howard, former Premier Barry O’Farrell, Mr Baird and Mr Turnbull all supported the plebiscite-style idea, Mr Abbott said, “so let’s get cracking”.
Meanwhile, on a return to a leadership position, Mr Abbott also said he’s “ready to serve” , but was content serving as the member for Warringah.
Mr Abbott later told reporters he wanted the momentum for change to continue into the NSW Liberal annual meeting next weekend.
“I’m confident that a lot of the people here today will be sending messages to the Premier and the Prime Minster – very respectful messages – saying, ‘We’ve heard your words …. now let’s turn aspiration into a reality’,” he said.
There was too much string pulling and manipulation in the NSW branch and it was time for reform given there were no elections looming, Mr Abbott said.