Trigger … Alby Shultz’s decision to retire from the rural seat of Hume set the stand-off in motion. Criticised … Senator Arthur Sinodinos.
Nanjing Night Net

NSW Liberals are fuming at being out-negotiated by the Nationals after a peace deal over federal seats cost the Liberals more than $1 million and possibly a spot in the Senate.

Under the deal in which the Nationals agreed not to run in the NSW seats of Hume, Gilmore and Eden-Monaro at the next federal election, the junior Coalition partner secured a much larger slice of the Coalition’s share of public election funding for each of the next three elections.

Based on present figures, the NSW Nationals will now make about $1.2 million at each of the next three federal elections, which is almost $400,000 per election more than they would have received before negotiations began.

The Nationals also negotiated a more favourable Senate ticket for themselves in the event of a double dissolution election, something the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has promised to hold should he be elected and the Senate prevents him from scrapping the carbon tax.

In the event of a double dissolution, the Nationals now have a chance of winning three senators, instead of two under the previous arrangements.

Under Coalition convention, when a seat is held by Labor, or the incumbent Coalition MP is retiring, both the Nationals and the Liberals are entitled to contest the seat in what is known as a three-cornered contest.

The Coalition agreement, finalised on Thursday after a three-month stand-off, is designed to minimise these contests so the parties do not waste resources fighting each other.

The stand-off was caused by a dispute over the rural seat of Hume, which is being vacated due to the retirement of the Liberal MP Alby Schultz.

The Liberals pre-selected businessman Angus Taylor and Mr Abbott made it clear he wanted Mr Taylor in Parliament. But the Nationals insisted on their right to also run for Hume and were eventually talked down.

But some Liberal MPs feel the price was too high and have criticised the negotiating skills of the party’s state president and Senator, Arthur Sinodinos, and the party’s state director, Mark Neeham.

After each federal election, parties which garner more than 4 per cent of the primary vote, receive public funding. At the moment, the rate is $2.43 per vote.

Because the Liberals and Nationals run a joint Senate ticket in NSW, they agree beforehand on how to split the proceeds from the Senate vote.

The Liberals were to take 85 per cent of the Senate public funding from the next federal election and the Nationals 15 per cent.

But the Nationals will now receive 25 per cent for this election and the two after it as well.

Under the 75-25 split, the Nationals will receive about $1.2 million an election from the Senate vote, $400,000 more than under the 85-15 split.

The Liberals will keep about $3 million.

Of the 49 federal seats in NSW, the Nationals will contest 10, including both Lyne and New England, which are held respectively by the independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor.

The seats of Calare and Cowper, which the Nationals currently hold, will be off-limits to the Liberals for two elections after the incumbent members retire.

In return, the Liberals have to themselves Hume, Eden-Monaro and Gilmore.

Eden-Monaro is held by Labor and the Liberal MP Joanna Gash is retiring from Gilmore. The Nationals had threatened to run Angry Anderson in Gilmore.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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