THE federal Liberal Party has suffered a blow with the loss of its endorsed candidate for the seat of Isaacs in Melbourne’s south-east.
Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach confirmed to Fairfax on Wednesday night that business consultant Jeff Shelley was no longer the endorsed candidate for Isaacs, held by federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.
Only minutes earlier, Mr Shelley insisted to Fairfax that he was the endorsed candidate. ”I am not aware that the party is considering disendorsing me,” he said.
He later called to also repeat the party’s official line that due to unforseen personal circumstances he had withdrawn his nomination for the seat held by Labor with a 10.4 per cent buffer.
Both the party and Mr Shelley refused to discuss the nature of the personal reasons for his withdrawal.
But party sources from the south-east said there were mounting concerns about Mr Shelley’s former employment with troubled Brighton-based solar panels installation company Cool World.
The company is under administration.
Mr Shelley confirmed he had worked as a sales support officer for Cool World for 10 months but he had left in January after the company failed to pay him for weeks.
He denied any knowledge of the company’s finances otherwise. ”I wasn’t privy to the financials of the organisation at all.”
Mr Shelley confirmed that he previously mentioned his Cool World employment on his LinkedIn page but had removed any reference to the company.
He said the timing of his withdrawal from the election race and any difficulties faced by Cool World were ”purely coincidental”.
He also contested Isaacs in 2004 and ran unsuccessfully for the Victorian Liberals against the Steve Bracks-led ALP in 2006.
On Wednesday night Mr Mantach said Mr Shelley’s replacement, Garry Spencer, spent over 20 years in the Australian Defence Force, reaching the rank of lieutenant-colonel and has had a successful career in the IT industry. He was also made a member of the Order of Australia.
”He will take up the fight to Labor and highlight the Coalition’s plan,” Mr Mantach said.
Election pundits both within the Coalition and outside doubt the party is likely to attract the kind of swing required to take a seat like Isaacs, despite performing strongly in recent opinion polls.
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