THE Liberal Party has protested against proposed registration of a new political party by Port Fairy’s James Purcell, claiming it is not legitimate and a front just to elect one man.
Mr Purcell’s Vote 1 Local Jobs party abbreviation LJP has also been challenged because it resembles the LP initials of the Liberal Party.
Liberal state director Damien Mantach in a letter to the Victorian Electoral Commission described the new political entity as a “micro party established solely for the purpose of seeking to leverage above-the-line preference swaps at the next election”.
He also claimed the 500 party members had been signed up on false pretences.
Cr Purcell, who is also Moyne Shire Council mayor, dismissed the claims and was confident the objection would be overruled by the commission.
“It’s disappointing the objection wasn’t based on sound grounds,” he said.
“I was very surprised to receive the objection as I didn’t think the Liberal Party would pay us any attention at all.
“We’re a small party standing for the upper house.
“We have a real chance of being elected so perhaps the Liberals see us as some sort of threat.”
He said he was aware of only one other objection which came from an individual also highlighting the LJP initials.
Asked why he chose that abbreviation, he said it simply stood for Local Jobs Party. “But if there’s an issue with that I don’t have a problem in changing it,” he said.
Cr Purcell said it seemed the Liberal Party objections were based on wording contained on his website.
“If we didn’t have a website, there wouldn’t be an objection,” he said.
“Our wording could have been better, but for the Liberals to say we set a cap on membership at 500 is incorrect.
“We’ve already got well over 500 from across the state, mostly from the Warrnambool district.”
Cr Purcell will respond to the challenge with a letter to the commission by July 21.
The commission will then consider objections and responses before making a decision on whether the party should be registered.
Cr Purcell aims to win the upper house fifth seat which is typically held by a minor party.
“It is not our intent to be critical of any party or candidate during the election process — we simply intend to put our ideas forward and let the public decide on our ability to represent Western Victoria,” he said.
“The overwhelming majority of those who have signed up are concerned there is no Western District representative from the south-west — they are from Geelong and Ballarat.”
Cr Purcell previously stood unsuccessfully as an independent gaining 11 per cent of first preference votes in the 2010 lower house elections against sitting member Denis Napthine.