"Stop squabbling" Judge tells Christian Democrats

“There’s no reason that squabbling between party members should endanger the party’s viability,” Justice Nigel Rein SC told the battling Christian Democrat factions in the NSW Supreme Court today. He also said he will be making no cost orders. The wrangling groups will need to pay their own way. The judge has asked the factions to come back with an agreement tomorrow.

Factions in the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) are wrangling in the Supreme court over a fresh set of elections to determine who controls the party as part of a case brought by a former treasurer Charles Knox.

Today’s skirmish resolved one issue – the Party will hold a postal ballot of branch delegates, rather than all party members. One fiercely contested election for Party President pits Fred Nile against his erstwhile heir apparent, Lyle Shelton. Without predicting a result, it is likely that a delegate election is better for Nile.

The lawyers for each group – one centred around Fred Nile, and the other led by party member Graeme Collins, a previous board member – have been asked to resolve the key issue of which branches and which delegates will get to vote. A third grouping, Lyle Shelton and his supporters were not represented in the court battle.

The provisional party board, in the hands of the Nile group, have re-birthed some 15 or so party branches. The other group says these may not be valid, in part because the State Council which has to endorse new branches has not sat.

It is likely the party’s receiver Schon Condon – appointed to prevent the party sliding into bankruptcy – will have do an audit of the branches, with Justice Rein probably making some rulings. We’ll see.