Australia: Catholic college stacking 'scheme' angers NSW MPs - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia Catholic college stacking 'scheme' angers NSW MPs

02:00  08 october  2019
02:00  08 october  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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Students at a private Sydney Catholic college are being used to stack Liberal Party branches in a plan to oust Federal MP Alex Hawke, with claims The latest move to stack Liberal branches in Sydney’s hills region - this time with Campion College students - has angered politicians in Canberra and NSW

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a man standing in front of a building: The Campion College grounds.© Simon Alekna The Campion College grounds. Students at a private Sydney Catholic college are being used to stack Liberal Party branches in a plan to oust Federal MP Alex Hawke, with claims some are being offered parliamentary jobs in exchange for recruitment efforts.

The latest move to stack Liberal branches in Sydney’s hills region - this time with Campion College students - has angered politicians in Canberra and NSW, with one senior MP calling for an investigation and for those responsible to be ousted from the party.

The Sydney Morning Herald understands about 20 Campion students have signed up to the party, with more than a dozen listing the college as their address. There are about 90 students at the college.

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The students at the liberal arts tertiary college said they were approached by other classmates and current or former NSW parliamentary staff to join.

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Federal and state Liberal MPs have expressed concern about claims that at least three students had been given jobs within NSW parliamentary or electorate offices in exchange for recruiting more members.

At least two people listed as staff members within NSW parliament have the Campion College road address as their residential address, according to a Young Liberal branch list seen by the Herald. They were contacted for comment via their parliamentary emails.

One first-year student said the recruitment drive started shortly after they arrived at the college, when about 20 students were taken to what they thought were social drinks at a pub in Castle Hill, but turned out to be what they described as a Young Liberal event.

“The meeting was very short lived ... two main people were saying ‘we need membership, you really need to join because we need to stack the party and roll Alex Hawke [federal member for Mitchell],” one student told the Herald.

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“They were saying join the party and help us in this fight against him.”

a person wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a crowd: Liberal member for Castle Hill Ray Williams.© Wolter Peeters Liberal member for Castle Hill Ray Williams. NSW Liberal member for Castle Hill Ray Williams said he was disturbed to learn students were being “manipulated” into joining the party.

“I think it’s appalling and ultimately I would imagine that these students are probably becoming aware that they’re being used for something that is very, very unsavoury and untoward,” Mr Williams told the Herald.

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A plot by conservative factions of the Liberal Party was uncovered in August, with a group promoting religious freedom working to recruit 5000 Christian conservatives to take “control” of the party.

Leaked documents obtained by the Herald, which contain metadata leading back to Federal and NSW parliaments, revealed the NSW Reformers group was working to recruit thousands of members across Sydney.

The group planned to target churches and other organisations across the city to sign up members to the party.

A Campion student said they had felt pressured to sign up to the party, and had observed others being told their admission fees would be paid for if they joined.

“I just thought they were trying to take advantage of me, I didn’t see it as fully legitimate,” they told the Herald.

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“At times I did feel pressured, quite a bit...some people have sort of felt it was quite pressuring.”

A former student said some students were “blindly accepting unethical roles as promoters”.

Campion College president Dr Paul Morrissey said he was not aware of any complaints made by students about political activity on the campus.

“Campion is not affiliated with any political party and we regularly invite speakers from across the political and academic spectrum to the college to address students and staff," Dr Morrissey said in a statement.

The Herald understands the Liberal Party has not received any complaint regarding Campion College.

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