The national press circled Prime Minister Scott Morrison in North Nowra on Wednesday, wanting to know the logic behind his captain’s call to reject a locally-endorsed nominee.
Grant Schultz, a Milton man selected by Gilmore Liberals to run for the knife-edge seat was snubbed because he dared to challenge a sitting member, and would not back down when the party asked him to withdraw his nomination.
On Tuesday, Mr Schultz resigned from the party and pledged to run for Gilmore as an independent.
“I'm not going to reward behaviour that sought to undermine a sitting member of parliament [Ann Sudmalis],” Mr Morrison said.
“His [Grant Schultz’s] decision to do what he has done yesterday just says the NSW state executive have got it dead right.
“You don't get to bully your way into a seat in the Liberal Party.”
When asked if he thought that Mr Schultz had bullied Mrs Sudmalis, the PM said he was not accusing Mr Schultz of that.
“No,” Mr Morrison said.
“I’m simply saying…he was challenging a sitting member of parliament.
“He can [do so], but when Ann decided not to run, I think it would have been the better opportunity for him to run, and for other candidates who would have liked to have come forward. I’m sure Warren would have been happy to put himself into that sort of contest.
“Grant didn’t want to do that. He wanted to take the option of being the only candidate in the field and I’m not going to reward that.”
More to come on Scott Morrison’s visit to Gilmore