CANDIDATE DRAMA: Liberal Richmond candidate Tom McFeely quits party then is back again as candidate 24 hours later

High-profile Liberal candidate in the inner-city battleground seat of Richmond, Tom McFeely, is believed to have resigned the party and his candidacy in an eloquent email sent to party HQ at 104 Exhibition Street this morning.

The prominent figure in Melbourne’s gay community, and owner of the gay pub Peel Hotel in Collingwood, is believed to have quit in frustration after a series of spats with party apparatchiks over the direction of his campaign.

McFeely is believed to have been a generous donor to the party, giving as much as $50,000 over the past couple of years, so losing him will be a real blow to inner-city campaign coffers.

104 sources told VEXNEWS that the situation – as at 2pm – had been ‘resolved’ after party officials turned him around. This is strongly disputed by sources close to McFeely as at 2.30pm who say he has made his decision and like Margaret Thatcher he is not for turning.

VEXNEWS has learned that McFeely originally agreed to be a candidate only after some heavy-duty persuasion from senior figures in the party including local party chairman Stuart McCraith and 104 officials as prominent as party director Tony Nutt encouraged him to fly the party’s flag in the inner-city lefty seat.

McFeely reluctantly agreed after being disappointed not to have been given preselection in a winnable seat. Sources close to McFeely say he had arranged his business affairs in such a way to free him up to campaign pretty much on a full-time basis.

The enthusiastic candidate went to a professional photographer and commissioned a series of photographs, spending over $2000 of his own money, insiders say.

When he sent his preferred pic to be put on corflute cardboard posters, young know-alls at 104 told him they didn’t like his choice and directed him to choose another. When he refused, we understand one went behind his back to the photographer and procured another – more conservative looking – photograph and purported to buy the rights to it.

At this point, things turned very nasty between 104 and McFeely and the photographer. McFeely threatened legal action, rightly and understandably explaining that he and he alone was the owner of the photographs, insiders say.

Further drama occurred when McFeely was interviewed – we believe on MTR radio – where he gave a strong account of himself but had committed the original sin of not clearing the interview first with party higher-ups. He was apparently reprimanded for this.

After stewing on the matter over the weekend, the flamboyant business owner who combines a love for Margaret Thatcher with ownership of one Melbourne’s best-known gay venues had decided enough was enough.

Around 10am today he is believed to have sent his driver to 104 Exhibition Street armed with a lengthy exposition of his resignation and the reasons why.

We understand that an emergency phone hook-up involving party leader Ted Baillieu, party director Tony Nutt and president David Kemp occurred directing Nutt to try to talk McFeely around. It appears that they were unsuccessful.

It is believed he will probably continue his bid for Richmond but instead as an independent. He might actually stand a chance of winning, his backers say, without his campaign being interfered with by party HQ. With a Labor minister seeking re-election, the Greens party vote surging, a popular lefty candidate Stephen Jolly and now a prominent right-wing independent all having a go, Richmond looks like it will be one of the most fascinating battle-grounds in this Victorian election.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Tom McFeely has reconsidered and has withdrawn his resignation from the Liberal party and will be resuming his candidacy as a Liberal. Never a dull moment.



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22 responses to “CANDIDATE DRAMA: Liberal Richmond candidate Tom McFeely quits party then is back again as candidate 24 hours later

  1. Pissy Chryne

    I’d love to have a ‘feely’ of Tom McFeely.

  2. Prodos Fan

    Patriot Prodos, Richmond needs you!

  3. Sotherby

    My goodnes, another prospective MP with an ego too big to keep under control- but i guess now that he is liberated from the party he can do as he feels, certainly not good for old labor!

  4. Simon

    Good on you Tom McFeely, you won’t be the last to quit the major parties over matters of personal expression, they don’t deserve you in Victoria try running for federal next time as independent, you have to be better than Windsor and Oakshotte.

  5. Adrian Jackson

    I agree Prodos should have a go. He got about 5000 votes in Albert Park last election running as a Liberal “independent” and he lives in Richmond electorate too I think

  6. Ben

    What’s going on at LibHQ? Two candidates gone within four days, they’ll be lucky to have any still standing by Nov 27!

  7. Tony

    Gagging their members? what’s going on? I thought the liberal constitution enforced freedom of expression for their candidates? no discussion of greens pref, no radio interviews. It’s Kennett 1999 again!

  8. duck u tom mcfeely

    Tom McFeely is one candidate who probably doesn’t mind being gagged.

    And bound.

    And fisted.

  9. Lib stalwart

    If this story is true, it’s very sad – Tom would have been a great candidate.

    The fact that he’s gay is irrelevant to 99% of Liberal Party members. He is a very successful businessman and would make a great contribution to the party.

    The d**heads that are responsible should be sacked.

  10. Joe

    Any candidate could fall out with the party if they are going to get precious about coreflute images, or if they are going to go out and speak for the party without authorisation.
    This is what happens when high profile candidates are brought in. They think the lovely hq courting process will continue right up untill retirement. But once preselected the real world of politics hits em.

  11. Giuseppe De Simone

    I am confused. The Baillieu strategy was to put duds into the four marginal ALP-Green seats so the Liberals would run 3rd and their preferences would get the Greens elected. Why then did they preselect someone who might come 2nd and actually give the Party credibility amongst the latte sippers? Apart from a strong admiration for Margaret Thatcher, I might not have much else in common with Tom McFeely; however, he strikes me as someone who should have been kept in the tent. Unfortunately, many candidates do not get told the whole truth about the stage management of campaigning the presidential way that has so permeated politics in Australia as a result of a shortened news cycle on the mainstream broadcast electronic media that needs sound bites rather than substance to keep news entertaining. Candidates in safe seats can’t take vital campaign oxygen from their leader and that means being boring and keeping quiet. I’m sorry, Tom, but someone should have told you what their real expectations were before they sent you out waving the flag (a very small unobtrusive flag), providing 100 homogenized corflutes with a single drop of a three fold brochure of inane generalities and photos shaking hands with a business person and chatting amiably with smiling families or walking the dog on leash in the park.

  12. Giuseppe De Simone

    The only problem with the Baillieu running third by running dead strategy is that it empowers the Greens and takes vital votes away from the upper house Liberal candidates as well. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Baillieu was to fall below 50% in Hawthorn, the ALP to run third and the Greens candidate defeat him on ALP preferences? Note: I am not saying anything about whether the Liberals should or should not preference the Greens ahead of the ALP. As a loyal party member, I am keeping my views to myself from now on. I would let the leadership know my views but I have enough sanity left to know that I have much less influence on Ted Baillieu than the cover boy of the White Pages business listings.

  13. Reds are better in bed

    Tom McFeely is an absolute crank. the bloke reckons the good citzens of the peoples republic of yarra should have to get a licence to ride their bikes; me thinks tom spends alot of time feeling you know what

  14. Pollster

    He would have a better chance arross the river in Hawthorn.

  15. Natasha The Despoiler

    McFeely lasted 8 days…

    Ollie lasted 8 years…

    There will never be another Ollie!!!

  16. Adrian Jackson

    You have to wonder if Liberal and Labour candidates would do a lot better if the party HQ did not exist except as an administrative element (membership etc).

    I think this destabilising of candidates by some in Liberal Party HQ is designed by the right to weaken Ted Baillieu or it is excessive micro management by neurotic HQ people who think they can run a campaign but cant.

  17. News Flash

    McFeely is once again the Liberal candidate for Richmond, he was on MTR between 8.20 – 8.30 with Price and Bolt and confirmed that everything is no OK between him and the Lib Machine.

  18. Pisstopher Chryne


  19. Sotherby

    FFS- since when does a Candidate need to worry about picking a corflute photo anyway? that sort of low level crap should be the responsibility of party office.

  20. Alex

    Hard to say who’s the bigger joke here: Ted Baillieu for refusing to rule out preferencing the Greens thus alienating his support base; or the dummy-spitting Liberal candidate for Richmond who’s proven to be a dill twice in the past 24 hours – once for quitting and then for returning.

  21. McFeely is once again the Liberal candidate for Richmond – so, he’s in AND out?

  22. Doooo ur homework Labor

    I’m just wondering if any Labor staffer has bothered to do a little digging into the ‘Dark Side’ of one Messrs McFeely?

    Seems holding a Liquor License of any successful gay business in Richmond, or nearby vicinities negates any wrong doing when illicit substances may be involved.

    Just ask past Licensee Dale Smedley of Richmond’s DT’s Hotel…

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