The conservative lawyer favoured to win preselection in the ultra-safe Liberal seat of Castle Hill has had his nomination blocked because he criticised the Berejiklian government’s pandemic lockdowns.
Noel McCoy, a former Young Liberal president, was expected to win the coveted seat after using his support in the hard-right faction to edge out centre-right rival and sitting member Transport Minister David Elliott.
However, McCoy on Friday said a Liberal Party internal review committee had rejected his candidacy over his vocal opposition to COVID-19 lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations.
“I have consistently and publicly sought to defend the party’s core values – freedom and liberty – and, in doing so, have at times in the more recent past criticised some aspects of the Berejiklian government’s and the Morrison government’s policy responses to COVID,” McCoy said.
“This has been weaponised to block me.”
After the rejection of McCoy’s nomination, Liberal Party state director Chris Stone emailed preselectors late on Friday to tell them that, due to “unforeseen circumstances”, the preselection for Castle Hill had been cancelled.
This could signal the revival of Elliott’s political career, after he withdrew his nomination for Castle Hill because he lacked the factional support to win the preselection. Elliott gave his valedictory speech, but had made it clear he was keen to stay in state parliament.
McCoy, a partner at a law firm, vowed to appeal against the decision to the party’s state executive and potentially elevate the matter to the NSW Liberal Party State Council.
“The vetting process did not identify any probity issues as to my candidacy,” he said.