CDP crisis meeting for Fred Nile’s party
UPDATE: The motions of no confidence were voted down at the state council meeting. The motion to have an independent audit of the party’s governance and finance passed with only one vote against it.
The Christian Democratic Party will hold a crisis meeting this weekend with a series of motions of no confidence in the leadership on the agenda.
The party’s State Council notice paper reads: “Motion of no confidence in the State President Ross Clifford, the Deputy State President Fred Nile, and the Junior Deputy State President Paul Green on the basis of catastrophic failure in performance at recent elections. As a result, I move that these individuals be dismissed from these positions effective immediately with the State Council members to elect an interim executive until the next AGM. ”
Eternity understands that this will be treated as three motions. An insider tells us that the motion of no confidence in Fred Nile is unlikely to pass, with an unknown result for the other two.
A group closely connected to Fred Nile is rallying members to come to the meeting at Toongabbie Baptist Church on Saturday afternoon. Paul Green, who lost his upper house seat at the state election earlier this year, is organising support as well.
A second, possibly more crucial motion calls for an external review of the party’s finances and governance. “Motion that an independent audit of the party’s performing and governance be arranged by the State Director to be presented to members at the AGM.”
“The upcoming State Council meeting will be an opportunity for the CDP to set a new direction for the party and its leaders.” – Greg Bonder
These motions on notice come from a controversial and disrupted meeting two months ago where a group of young Turks, led by 18-year-old Samraat Joshua Grewel, attempted a coup.
But this crucial meeting is only the outworking of the party’s chief problem.
Eternity has been assured that Fred Nile remains as sharp as ever in assessing legislation and strategic manoeuvres in parliament, but he is 85. Now that Paul Green has lost his seat there is no assured path forward for a new generation of leadership.
The party itself has aged, with 30 per cent of the party membership over 80. They have been voting for the same party board time after time.
Grewal is possibly just the latest in a long line of younger, more enthusiastic people who join the CDP but leave after finding a party set up to campaign in a previous era. One example is Nella Hall, a strong campaigner, now working in the office of One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham.
“I believe the CDP does have a strong base and residual support.” – Craig Hall
Discontent has been heightened by two incidents. Ten years ago, Fred Nile reneged on a promise to hand over his parliamentary seat to Ross Clifford, Principal of the Baptist Morling College. That led to the party losing 80 branches in a year, including four interstate organisations. The failure of the “Kirribilli” moment has demoralised many party members. (Kirribilli House was the site of the failed Hawke-Keating handover agreement.)
Second, in August 2018 the party was found in breach of the rules about the use of money allocated by the NSW government for the running of MLCs’ offices. The party transferred this money illegally into its election account. The whole board and executive of the party were found to be in breach the law, having presided over a vote to approve the transfer of funds.
There are party optimists. “I believe the CDP does have a strong base and residual support,” State Director Craig Hall tells Eternity. “It can go on to be a second generation of influence in NSW.”
A former State Director, Greg Bonder, who now runs Family Voice in NSW, tells Eternity: “The upcoming State Council meeting will be an opportunity for the CDP to set a new direction for the party and its leaders. The CDP has before it a number of critical issues such as the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019, Religious Freedom and Euthanasia, which will require a well-resourced CDP to be at the political forefront.” He predicts the votes of no confidence will not get up.
But those meeting manoeuvres are not the CDP’s real issues. For the conservative Christians who back the party, restoring a sense of dynamism to the party and affecting a generational change to its structures are the issues – along with a succession plan for Fred Nile.