VINCE CONNELLY has won a tight gender-fuelled race to become the Liberal candidate for Stirling at the upcoming federal election.
The former army officer pipped Michelle Sutherland by just two votes at last Saturday’s pre-selection meeting (February 23).
High-profile candidate Joanne Quinn was a favourite in the lead-up, but could only muster four votes and didn’t make it past the first round.
She was allegedly backed by party powerbrokers Mathias Cormann and Peter Collier, issuing a six-page brochure to delegates outlining her credentials ahead of the vote.
But the rank and file were keen on Mr Connelly, who is vice-president of the Liberal Party’s Stirling division.
Ms Sutherland, a Bayswater councillor, says she was a bit disillusioned with the machinations of the pre-selection, but the experience has whetted her appetite to run at state level.
“I think it should be left to the branches to decide and there shouldn’t be so much interference from federal pollies,” she told the Voice.
Ms Sutherland, president of the Liberal Yokine branch, believes she might have got over the line if the powerbrokers hadn’t split the female vote and backed Ms Quinn.
With four women contesting the Stirling pre-selection, commentators saw it as a chance for the Libs to readdress the gender imbalance in the party, as less than one quarter of their federal MPs are female.
In contrast The Labor Party has used a gender quota system for years and is close to achieving 50 per cent female representation.
Ms Sutherland, state president of the WA Liberal Women’s Council, says that after the election the party should sit down and discuss how it can get more women onboard.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK