Armed with a reference from beloved (among Liberal branch members) former PM John Howard and one of the most stunningly impressive references from constituents we’d ever seen (detailing Wood’s role in helping them get a new drug approved in Australia which helped their son), the detective senior sergeant, antique seller and acne cure entrepreneur now looks set to return to the Reps.
In his last tour of Parliamentary duty, Wood inspired and impressed the nation by repeatedly substituting the word orgasm with organism in remarks on genetically modified organisms. It’d been a late night.
It’s a subject Wood had been keenly interested in too, as a former member of Greenpeace, which he was keen to disavow in documents circulated to preselectors. LaTrobe locals tell VEXNEWS Wood was once very keen to highlight his Greenish credentials in the nature-loving seat but has clearly moved on from all that.
Indeed, Wood’s interests are so broad, VEXNEWS can reveal that in addition to his duties as a senior and accomplished Victoria Police officer, importer of antiques that Wood is also the entrepreneur behind the SkinB5 Natural Acne Treatment corporation.
Up against Wood were five other candidates, including Michael Keane, a former member of the libertarian Liberal Democratic Party and anaesthetist. His referees included the highly-regarded Executive Director of the IPA, John Roskam. Keane is also a member of the newly formed Australian Taxpayers Alliance which aims to keep the next Liberal government on the straight and narrow in terms of economic reform. A relatively new party member, he wasn’t expected to go that well.
In a field of several new-comers was former local mayor and councillor Sue McMillan, whose de facto “partner” Greg Hyams was partly responsible for rolling out the much-maligned Myki ticketing system that seems to work perfectly except for causing considerable delays at City rail stations and preventing tourists from using public transport at all.
McMillan got an absolute roasting in the preselection process over past atrocities which included resigning from the party in a huff after missing out on several past preselections, prompting her to make a public attack on Jason Wood and local MP Nick Wakeling, in the local press. Her red-faced and death-stare issuing reaction won her few friends from those assembled who prize loyalty to the cause above much else.
Critics of McMillan were damning in their description of her to VEXNEWS insisting that even her claims to be a graphic designer glossed over the fact that her material is usually ugly. They say McMillan has all the attributes of an Alsatian except loyalty, having been nurtured by Jason Wood originally before turning on him like a jackal.
Her credentials statement circulated to party members boasted – inter alia – that McMillan was Outstanding Rookie Mortgage Broker of 2008 with Aussie Home Loans, so she can’t be all bad.
The prominent local was left somewhat embarrassed by her poor showing on the night, insiders say.
She was lucky to be spared questions about her opposition to the Knox council extending rates relief to pensioners, which insiders say would have pushed her low level of support through the floor.
Also in the field was an IT uber-nerd Martin Spratt, who impressed VEXNEWS by his frank willingness to assert in material sent to party members that he was in fact a “chick magnet” contrasting favourably he thought with the current federal party leader, Tony Abbott.
In his credentials statement, Spratt explained that he had previously fled Australia because of what he described perhaps slightly unconvincingly as the spread of socialism (he went to Bill Clinton’s America where the former President was also accused of socialistic tendencies) and claimed equally dubiously that his hobbies included late-night studying of Hansard and a plan to raise more than half a million bucks to fight the LaTrobe campaign.
Another candidate we weren’t expecting to do well was former ALP member Mark Verschuur, whose credentials statement admitted his past membership in the early 90s of the Australian Labor Party but explained this was due to “family pressure.” (We’ve all been there)
Some might have seen this as a lame excuse although the former MP for La Trobe Bob Charles thought Mark would be OK and gave him a reference.
Other than Sue McMillan being torn a new one for her treachery against the party, attendees report a highlight was a spectacular intervention from South-East Liberal powerbroker Andrew McNab who accused Mark Verschuur of being a potentially sneaky double-agent of influence from the Labor comrades, evidenced by what he said was a wanton display in his place of business of a Progressive Business (the ALP fundraiser group) certificate signed by a former Labor Premier. Comrade Mark vigorously denied this but it cost him plenty of votes, those attending maintain.
As it turned out McNab’s intervention may have been decisive because while Jason Wood scored 61 votes of the 140 or so potential votes in the first round, Comrade Mark was not far behind the pace with 38 votes, “chick magnet” Martin Spratt attracted 17 votes, serial candidate and local clowncillor Sue McMillan 14 votes and Michael Keane got an even dozen.
In the end, Wood won handily, after the bottom three candidates were eliminated.
So we can look forward to more stunning efforts like this.