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Lib candidates safe as poll call looms


A potential hurdle to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling an election this weekend has been removed.

The High Court on Friday afternoon dismissed a special leave application to challenge the way Mr Morrison and the federal executive intervened to choose candidates in NSW.

Chief Justice Susan Kiefel said there were “insufficient prospects of success to warrant leave” for former Liberal member Matthew Camenzuli to challenge the intervention. 

A successful challenge could have put as many as 12 NSW Liberal candidates at risk, causing huge damage to Mr Morrison’s chances of retaining power.

Earlier, the Prime Minister campaigned in Victoria, shrugging off concerns voiced by his own MPs about his popularity and accusing Labor leader Anthony Albanese of attempting to avoid scrutiny before the election.

“Anthony Albanese has ducked and weaved, he’s pretending to be everybody under the sun except himself,” he told reporters in Avalon, outside of Melbourne, on Friday.

“Election campaigns are an opportunity for Australians to make a choice… you make a choice about who you’re going to vote for and that choice has a consequence.”

Australians are expected to go to the polls on either 14 or 21 May.

The Prime Minister said it would not be far away when the election was called.

“Electoral terms are for three years. The last election was on May 18 (2019) and the next election will be held about the same time,” Mr Morrison said.

On Friday afternoon, parliamentary officials issued a program for the scheduled House of Representatives sitting starting on Monday, but it is not expected to go ahead.

Mr Albanese, who was in Adelaide talking about the quality of aged care, accused the Prime Minister of attempting to delay the election so taxpayer funds could still be used for government advertising.

“This absurdity of not having the election called so that they can continue to spend taxpayer funds on election ads that are in the name of the government, but they’re really about promoting the Liberal National parties… call the election, let the Australian people decide,” he said.

“I feel like putting in a phone call to the Prime Minister if he doesn’t know where the Governor-General lives, and offer him a lift.”

Mr Albanese also criticised the government making numerous last-minute appointments of former Liberal MPs and coalition staffers to Commonwealth bodies.

“Surely there are now no more Liberal former state MPs, federal MPs, local councillors or mayors to appoint to these bodies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Liberal MP Katie Allen said voters weren’t happy with the Prime Minister and that his unpopularity could hurt re-election chances for Liberals in key Victorian seats.

Ms Higgins represents the Melbourne seat of Higgins, a must win electorate for the coalition, with the Liberals only holding it by 3.8%.

Mr Morrison conceded not all of his policies had been fully accepted by voters and said he was not perfect.

Labor’s campaign took a minor hit, with its candidate for the hotly contested Sydney seat of Hughes pulling out following citizenship concerns.

Peter Tsambalas withdrew from the race after fears he could fall foul of section 44 of the constitution, which prevents someone standing for parliament if they have citizenship to another country.

Mr Tsambalas acquire a dual citizenship with Greece through his migrant parents.

The MP for Hughes, Craig Kelly, found himself in trouble at a Melbourne campaign event, being hit with an egg by a protester. 

The coalition’s prospects of holding a Senate seat in the Northern Territory were put at risk with Senator Sam McMahon signing up as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats.

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