RECRIMINATIONS following the Peter Costello-Michael Kroger bust-up are a major source of the Corangamite Liberal preselection dispute, sources claim.
Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach launched an official investigation last week into alleged “dirty tricks” surrounding the campaign for preselection in the ultra-marginal seat.
Former television journalist Sarah Henderson, policy adviser Rod Nockles and Geelong physiotherapist Marcus Dripps have all thrown their hat into the ring to become the Liberal candidate at the next federal election.
Ms Henderson is understood to have the backing of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as well as other leading figures including Mr Kroger.
Mr Nockles has gained several official endorsements including prominent NSW senator Arthur Sinodinos and former community services minister Jocelyn Newman, the mother of new Queensland premier Campbell Newman. Mr Nockles is also understood to have gained support from Mr Costello.
Liberal heavyweight Peter Reith said the Costello-Kroger faction was no longer a credible force within the Victorian division of the party.
He said endorsements made by high-profile members and former MPs may hold some sway over local electors but believed their judgment was largely based on face-to-face meetings.
“The Costello-Kroger faction was a blot on the Victorian Liberal Party and I’m glad it’s gone,” Mr Reith told The Standard last week.
“I think they’re really peripheral figures now.
“We have a whole new generation of MPs rising through the ranks who aren’t factionally aligned.
“There are no factions within the Victorian Liberal Party now that Peter and Michael have faded away.”
Former Liberal Party state president Michael Kroger made a series of highly-publicised interviews earlier this month detailing why his political partnership with Peter Costello had broken down.
Corangamite is held on a wafer-thin margin by Labor MP Darren Cheeseman but is highly likely to fall into Coalition hands based on recent opinion polling.