Branch support for Sudmalis collapses: senior Liberal

SUPPORT: Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis with Treasurer Scott Morrison in Nowra on Thursday morning. Mr Morrison gave his full support to the MP, who is facing a preselection challenge. Photo: Rebecca Fist
SUPPORT: Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis with Treasurer Scott Morrison in Nowra on Thursday morning. Mr Morrison gave his full support to the MP, who is facing a preselection challenge. Photo: Rebecca Fist

A senior local Liberal member says local party support for Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis has collapsed.

“The Gilmore Federal Electoral Conference used to attract 90 members. It now struggles to attract 20 members to meetings,” the party member of 15 years told Fairfax Media.

“I have branch members who refuse to go to meetings because they’re held in Ann’s office.”

The party member spoke out after an ABC radio report suggested Mrs Sudmalis was popular among local members.

“Any assertion she is well respected in the branches is a complete lie,” he said.

He said membership had declined markedly in some local party branches.

“Sussex Inlet and Bay and Basin branches started out with 30-plus members. They now have about 10 each.”

Another longstanding party member offered an equally dismal assessment of Mrs Sudmalis’ standing among local branches.

“At functions with high-profile cabinet members, she is struggling to get more than 20 people along at the last minute. This is highly embarrassing.” 

There has been a changing of the guard in the Nowra branch, previously a stronghold of support for Mrs Sudmalis. Where her supporters once held all executive positions, they now only hold one.

Mrs Sudmalis’ preselection made national headline news on Thursday morning when it was revealed she was facing a challenge from Milton businessman Grant Schultz.

She was heartily endorsed by Treasurer Scott Morrison during a press conference on the banks of the Shoalhaven River on Thursday morning.

Mrs Sudmalis has been contacted for comment.