Liberals have reacted furiously to ‘head office’ intervention, endorsing Liberal Councillor Rory Amon (main image) to stand for Pittwater.

Comments made by NSW Treasurer Matt Kean last week, critical of the selection process in Northern Beaches seats to replace Rob Stokes, Brad Hazzard and Jonathan O’Dea, have infuriated local members.

In the wake of NSW Metropolitan Roads Minister Natalie Ward failing to win a selection ballot in Davidson, Minister Kean said Liberal Party members on the Northern Beaches were making the wrong decisions and not reflecting community sentiment.

In comments widely interpreted by local Liberal Party members as an intention to intervene in the selection process underway for Pittwater, Minister Kean told a press conference last Wednesday (30 November) he wanted the nomination process for Pittwater reopened.

Rory Amon

Local members say they are upset they are gagged from speaking publicly while Minister Kean has made a series of ‘outrageous and untrue accusations’. Speaking to senior Liberal sources anonymously, it has been suggested Minister Kean may be driven more by dislike for Cr Rory Amon, who is seen as too much of an ‘independent thinker’ by factional bosses.

An email to members of the Pittwater Liberal Party State Conference from President Stu Cameron, seen by the Northern Beaches Advocate, has revealed that Minister Kean may have underestimated the allegiance of Northern Beaches Liberal Party members.

Mr Cameron wrote to Minister Kean in the wake of the public comments. It reveals two out of three nominees for Liberal selection in Pittwater were women. One of those (The Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones) withdrew and the other was ineligible under party rules at the time she nominated. That left the only remaining nominee to be Northern Beaches Liberal Councillor Rory Amon.

The letter addressed from Mr Cameron to Minister Kean (image above) pulls no punches.

“Given your comments, I can only assume that you are ignorant of the facts. I hope that this letter will enlighten you. I reject your assertion that Liberal Party Members of the Pittwater Conference are out of touch with community standards and that, somehow, we have a bias against women in politics.

“The Pittwater Conference is comprised of over 140 individuals who have dedicated their lives to improving the local community. Their membership of the Liberal Party, as well as the dozens of surf clubs, RFS brigades, sporting clubs, charity organisations, and a raft of other community groups is testament to their deep sense of obligation to public service.

“Publicly implying that the Pittwater Conference is comprised of a bunch of old, out of touch, misogynist men is a lie. As Conference President, I have always ensured that there is no discrimination of any kind in the Pittwater Conference and that our processes are fair, inclusive and entirely in keeping with our Constitution.

“Contrary to your point, women are in leadership positions across the length and breadth of the Conference. Three of the last five Conference Presidents were women. Half of the Conference Executive are extremely talented and highly qualified women under the age of 35. Women are equally represented at every level of the local membership,” wrote Mr Cameron.

The Northern Beaches Advocate attempted to contact Mr Cameron to verify the authenticity of the letter, but he declined to comment, saying he was prohibited under party rules from speaking with the media. He did not deny the contents of the letter, and multiple senior Liberal sources have confirmed the letter is authentic.

The intrigue has deepened as claims of ‘push polling’ have emerged this week, aiming to show Cr Amon is not popular in the local community. The Northern Beaches Advocate has confirmed with two Liberal Party members they have received polling calls.

Multiple sources who were at a Liberal Party meeting on Monday night (05 December), where the matter was discussed, said members were ‘white hot’ about external interference and a motion was passed demanding Minister Kean be censured.

Rory Amon

In what will create a very difficult situation for the Liberal Party, the Pittwater Conference then held an endorsement vote for Rory Amon, who reportedly left the room to avoid being caught up in the conflict with headquarters. According to three sources present, the Conference meeting voted to endorse Rory Amon as the Liberal candidate for Pittwater without dissent.

According to a source familiar with the processes of Liberal Party State Executive, even if factional bosses opposed to Cr Rory Amon wish to reopen nominations or impose an alternative candidate, it will be very difficult to do so. Moreover, they will find themselves with an insurgent campaign against the rank and file membership, supporting a community based candidate.

“The factional players may not want Rory Amon, but just like Matt Cross in Davidson, he’s done the work in the area. Members know him and like him. The last election results trump any push poll they want to try on. He increased the Liberal vote, that’s the only poll that matters,” said the senior Liberal.

Rory Amon

First elected in 2017, Rory Amon has served two terms on Northern Beaches Council as an elected Liberal Councillor. At times considered controversial, Cr Amon has gained respect for his effectiveness in issues including accountability and transparency, tackling Council waste, improving services and lowering rates, and opposing inappropriate development. He is also an advocate for small businesses, upgrades to surf life saving clubhouses, and fair access to public space for families with dogs.

Rory Amon volunteering for Davidson RFS

33-year-old Cr Amon is on the Roll of Solicitors of the Supreme Court of NSW and the High Court of Australia, having practised as a solicitor for a decade. A Narrabeen resident, he has been an active volunteer firefighter since 2013 and served as President and Vice-President of the Davidson Rural Fire Brigade for over eight years (image above).

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate, Channel Seven

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