Game of Scones: Inside Liberal strategic morning tea
Dumprf minister Don Harwin has floated plans to lock in safer seats for his factional friends in negotiations over a secret Liberal Party submission to re-draw the state's electoral boundaries.
An internal civil war over the plot threatens to disrupt the government with conservative MPs asking Treasurer Dominic Perrottet to make urgent representations to the premier.
Conservative MP Tanya Davies, who last year spoke out against Premier Gladys Berejiklian over abortion, warned last night there would be "World War Three" if the redistribution submission was used for factional favours.
Concerned their seats were being put at risk in favour of Mr Harwin's allies, the conservative faction held a private morning tea last Thursday to plan their intervention.
Mr Perrottet, who agreed to speak to the premier, told the meeting the "redistribution should be framed around community interest and winning the next election not factional outcomes".
When The Daily Telegraph last night put the concerns to Liberal Party HQ, a spokesman tried to downplay them saying a number of the proposals were "incorrect" - however they refused to nominate which ones and refused to provide a copy of the submission.
"The Liberal Party submission is still being prepared, following widespread consultation within the party," a spokesman said.
However MPs across all factions have spoken to The Daily Telegraph about their concerns with elements of the submission, which have been communicated to MPs as "ideas" but not finalised.
Moderate factional powerbroker Mr Harwin was tasked by the party to take carriage of the
redistribution after he was dumped from the ministry for breaching COVID restrictions.
Ideas which have been put to MPs in the consultation for the submission include:
■ Shoring up the marginal Penrith seat of Mr Harwin's close friend Stuart Ayres, at the expense of conservative Ms Davies's seat of Mulgoa;
■ Creating a new seat in the eastern suburbs moderate Liberal heartland called Waverley which would allow for the election of another moderate;
■ Abolishing Speaker Jonathan O'Dea's seat of Davidson, which would have a flow on effect of strengthening moderate faction leader Matt Kean's seat and creating a new seat called Dural;
■ Abolishing the Labor seat of Canterbury which could make moderate Mark Coure's seat of Oatley safer, with the creation of a new seat, Leppington, and;
■ Merging Maroubra and Heffron to create a new seat of Botany.
The submission will be finalised and put to the Electoral Commission by June 30 with the commission responsible for any final boundary changes.
Although the submission is still being drafted, the communication of these early proposals with Liberal MPs has been sufficient to spark dramatic tensions.
Significantly, there is a view not enough has been done to secure some of the party's most marginal seats such as East Hills or Seven Hills. When asked about the plans yesterday Ms Davies, the MP for Mulgoa, fired a warning shot, saying: "If their proposal is to take parts of my electorate and make it more marginal, eroding my hard work and margin in order to support a moderate, then it is World War Three."
Another MP said: "This is a blatant factional stitch up by Don Harwin. He is co-ordinating a redistribution submission based on the projected outlook of any future party room which allows the moderates full control. This is not in the interests of the Liberal Party."
A third said: "This is not Don's party. It's the Liberal Party."
However other party sources downplayed the concerns, saying the final submission would be fair and designed to maximise party wins. "No MP will go berserk because of our submission," one said.
There are conspiracy theories flying including that the planned creation of a new eastern suburbs seat would allow for the return of one of Mr Harwin's closest friends Bruce Notley-Smith to parliament, after he lost the seat of Coogee at the last election.
The previous redistribution was conducted in 2013, with Mr Harwin at the time working with former upper house conservative MP Peter Phelps on the submission for a cross-factional perspective.
There is concern that on this occasion, Mr Harwin has instead been given "carte blanche".
Originally published as Game of Scones: Inside conservative Liberal MPs' strategic morning tea