The Shooters Fishers Farmers Party is facing accusations of branch stacking, along with claims that branches were dis-endorsed and a new one created in the hours leading up to a failed leadership challenge against party leader Robert Borsak.
The leadership challenge was led by lower house MPs Roy Butler and Phil Donato as well as upper house member Mark Banasiak.
The challengers entered the AGM on 12 December thinking they had the numbers to succeed but the spill was voted down in what one person described as a “landslide” in favour of maintaining the status quo.
However, some party members are furious that the votes of some branches were not counted when they were ruled ineligible to vote.
Branches were allegedly dis-endorsed a day or two before the AGM, after previously being told their votes would be eligible at the meeting.
A spokesperson for the SFF said those branches had been inactive and had therefore lost their status as recognised branches, and that they did not give the executive sufficient time to consider re-endorsing them before the AGM.
A new Western Sydney Branch was created as little as a week before the AGM for the explicit purpose of improving Mr Borsak’s numbers in the vote, according to several party members.
At least one member has made a complaint to Fair Trading about branch stacking, and there has been discussion about taking the matter to the Electoral Commission or even ICAC, although it is not clear what the basis of the complaint might be as branch stacking itself is not illegal.
A large number of party members have resigned over the matter.
One, who did not want to be named, said it was bitterly disappointing after supporting the party since its inception as the Shooters Party.
“I’ve put my heart and soul into this party for 30 years,” he said.
Sue Gilroy, who was standing for the SFF in the electorate of Upper Hunter, has also resigned.
Ms Gilroy had been considered a very strong possibility to win the seat for the SFF but no one now expects the party to pick it up.
The SFF will field new candidates against Mr Butler and Mr Donato in next year’s election, when the incumbent MPs will run as independents.
Mr Borsak said he was not making any public comments about the situation.
The only statement made by the SFF was posted on their Facebook page earlier in the week, concluding that it would “continue to focus our sights, resources and attention to the 2023 March State elections”.
Related: Why nothing good will come from the SFF debacle, for the party, the MPs or shooters
Related: Phil Donato: Why I quit the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party
Related: NSW Shooters Party in turmoil as MPs resign