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NSW Liberal Party to erupt before Bennelong by-election

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 4 days ago Chris O'Keefe

Internal divisions within the NSW Liberal Party are expected to erupt just a week before the Prime Minister attempts to win the crucial Bennelong by-election.

9NEWS understands Mr Turnbull's moderate or left faction of the state Liberal Party will try and railroad their factional enemies on the right led by Tony Abbott, by proposing a different constitutional model.

The right faction is expecting Mr Abbott's "Warringah Motion" to be ratified at a meeting of the party's State Council at Sydney Town Hall on December 9.

The motion gives every party member a vote in preselections for seats in parliament and was overwhelmingly upheld at a special convention in July.

The moderates are backing an alternative, what's called the "Bennelong Model", which will only see local plebiscites for lower house seats in the state and federal parliaments.

Senate appointments will be selected by State Council delegates.

Tony Abbott. © AAP Image/Mick Tsikas Tony Abbott. A senior source said Mr Abbott's proposal for "one member one vote" was impractical and too expensive. "The party would have to hire the Sydney Cricket Ground to give everyone a vote."

Senior moderates concede the fight on plebiscites has now been lost but they are holding firm on their view that Tony Abbott's model is susceptible to branch stacking and don't want these changes to bankrupt the party.

The "Bennelong Model" was borne from a conference of former Prime Minister John Howard's local party members. Senior figures hope this will bring an end to the internal divisions that have plagued the NSW party.

Members of the right faction have threatened to defect to Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservative party if the Warringah Motion is not ratified.

Complaints about an ideological shift to the left and excessive influence of lobbyists like Michael Photios have been at their heart of their concerns.

Both the Warringah Model and Bennelong Model have been through the Party's Constitutional Standing Committee and will be voted on at the Annual General Meeting on December 9. 

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