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Nationals hit back at claim preselection was 'ridiculous'

ANGRY: Rod Bruem has criticised the review into the Lismore pre-selection.
ANGRY: Rod Bruem has criticised the review into the Lismore pre-selection. Marc Stapelberg

A DISGRUNTLED former Nationals candidate abruptly quit the party yesterday in the wake of controversy over what he said were "a series of ridiculous and damaging character attacks" at the Lismore preselection meeting.

Rod Bruem alleged the party's ethics committee "hastily convened" on Tuesday to review questions asked at the weekend meeting that he claimed were "damaging and defamatory".

The NSW Nationals issued a statement that the committee had "carefully considered" the issues put forward by Mr Bruem.

"(The committee) is satisfied that no questions to any of the pre-selection candidates breached the party's rules of debate which protect members from disorderly personal reflections," the statement said.

The Northern Star obtained a copy of the recording of the questioning by the public and the pre-selection committee from the NSW Nationals.

Two questions were asked in relation to spouses and their influence over the candidate's Nationals values.

Nationals NSW deputy state director Thomas Aubert said the standard question, asked of all six candidates on the day, was: 'is your spouse or partner a member of the Nationals and if not can you count on their support?'

An audience member asked if Mr Bruem may be swayed by differing opinions held by his partner. Mr Bruem said that public question was based on "innuendo" and "horrible social media posts" from a Facebook page circulating "false and defamatory information" about him.

Mr Aubert rejected that either question was homophobic.

One audience member made mention of social media chatter crtical of Mr Bruem and his partner's past. Mr Bruem criticised the pre-selection committee for allowing the question given each candidate had been thoroughly background checked.

But the committee found it was "satisfied that no question put to any candidate during the pre-selection meeting was such that it could have impacted upon the process or outcome of the pre-selection meeting, the result of which was clear cut".

"The committee finds that the Lismore State Electorate Council's selection of the three candidates who are to proceed to the NSW Nationals community pre-selection for Lismore electorate stands," the statement said.

In a statement announcing his departure, Mr Bruem claimed he had been contacted by "several women" who alleged that they had been subject to "sexist and unacceptable questioning at Nationals preselections which were also ruled not out of order."

Mr Aubert slammed the allegation as a "baseless assertion".

Topics:  nationals party northern rivers community northern rivers politics



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