The vast majority of the Warrnambool Liberal Party committee members have been dumped as part of a spectacular bloodletting of the city's branch in the wake of Labor’s smashing state election victory last year.
Branch president John Maddock, secretary Jennifer Lowe, treasurer Peter Sycopoulis and committeemen Peter Herbert and Adam Kempton were all replaced at a meeting on Tuesday night in a stunning coup.
Committee members Jan Read and Cheryl Bellman survived the carnage to remain on the board.
After the mood of the meeting became clear, most of the old committee did not stand for re-election.
A highly placed Liberal Party source said only a handful of members were expected to attend the meeting on Tuesday night but about 40 turned up.
"It was a complete blindside," he said.
"The membership revolted against the former committee. It was a complete revolt. Thirty to 40 turned up and they got rid of most of the old committee."
Warrnambool is the largest Liberal Party branch in south-west Victoria with more than 100 members.
The party source said a bone of contention was the lack of general membership meetings, with nearly all gatherings just for the committee.
"There's not been a meeting of the general membership in the past year. It's been running as a closed shop," he said.
"The other main issue was the lack of support for the member for South West Coast Roma Britnell.
"There was no fundraising in the lead-up to the November state election. The Warrnambool branch was not actively engaging with members, the committee decided against it."
The source said Tuesday night's meeting was seen as a massive show of support for Mrs Britnell.
"There's a new committee with James Taylor, of Framlingham, taking over as branch president, Jan Read is secretary, Ellie Read treasurer and the committee includes Jarrod Woolley and Cheryl Bellman.
"Most of the committee positions were not contested," the source said.
"There were 40 in the room and we had 35 of them. It was a complete blindside.
“It was an absolutely closed shop but that's come back to bite them in a huge way.”
The Standard has contacted Mr Taylor for comment.
Warrnambool mayor Tony Herbert, a staunch Liberal Party supporter and former delegate, welcomed the changes.
"I think the changes that have been made are really good. Sometimes you need new ideas, a restructure, fresh blood. I'm not surprised," he said.
"I've found that during my time as a councillor I just don't have time to go to (Liberal) meetings. I go to the AGM and that's about it."
Cr Herbert said he was not surprised about the healthy meeting attendance.
"Cheryl Bellman has done a fantastic job as the membership officer. I'm not sure what you mean about a coup," he said.
"Jennifer Lowe now has another role now with Bev Macarthur. John Maddock was president for two years and Peter Sycopoulis was nominated but said he had had his time and did not accept did not accept the nomination."
Cr Herbert said he was on the branch committee about five years ago.
"The people on it have been fantastic. I think talk of a coup is a complete media beat-up," he said.
"There was a good exchange of information at the meeting. There were questions about rail and the Princes Highway.
"There was a lot of discussion and everyone went home happy. I think it went smoothly in terms of the change of office bearers. No-one ran against them," he said
Mrs Britnell dropped nearly 7.5 per cent of the primary vote in the November state election, but survived a close contest while Liberal Party members across Victoria lost seats in a Labor landslide victory.
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