Liberals call for new rules after Molan's rogue Senate campaign

The Liberal Party is considering new rules to disqualify candidates who disobey instructions and run their own rogue election campaigns, following the "dishonourable" performance of spurned Senator Jim Molan.

Liberal MP and former party president Trent Zimmerman said while Senator Molan's "below-the-line" campaign to be re-elected did not breach any rules, it disrespected the Liberal Party and undermined its coalition agreement with the Nationals.

Senator Molan, whose term expires on June 30, was relegated to an unwinnable fourth position on the Coalition's Senate ticket in NSW at the May 18 election. In response, he mounted his own campaign asking supporters to give him their first preference by voting below the line on their ballot paper rather than following official Liberal how-to-vote cards.

Critics accused him of confusing voters and undermining the Coalition's campaign by recruiting Liberal volunteers to wear “Jim Molan” T-shirts and hand out his how-to-vote cards when they should have been supporting other Liberal candidates.


Mr Zimmerman, who sat on the party's state executive in NSW for 11 years, including two as president, said new rules were needed to disqualify candidates who engaged in such activity.

"This episode showed a gap in our existing rules and candidate agreements," he said.

"There is a strong case for introducing a requirement that a candidate for an upper house position can only campaign for the position for which they have been pre-selected."

It is understood discussions are already underway at senior levels of the party about introducing such rules.

Mr Zimmerman described Senator Molan's conduct as dishonourable, especially because it undermined the success of the third person on the ticket, the Nationals' Perin Davey.


"It was dishonourable because it showed no respect for the democratic process that the Liberal Party undertook," he said.

"Secondly, it obviously caused angst for the National Party under the coalition agreement, whose position he was effectively targeting."

While the final results of the Senate ballot are yet to be declared, it is expected Ms Davey will be elected while Senator Molan has been unsuccessful. However, he may be able to re-enter the Senate through the vacancy created by Arthur Sinodinos’ appointment as ambassador to the United States.

Senator Molan was contacted for comment on Tuesday.

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