Odds shorten on MP being dumped

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The odds of Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis being dumped at a crucial May 1 party meeting have shortened after she signed a petition saying she would notvote for her state colleagues if council mergers went ahead, according to a senior local Liberal Party source.
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“The odds were at 50-50 before the issue of Ann Sudmalis signing the petition came to light,” the source said.

“I am being approached by people everywhere I go asking why there is no alternative candidate. They are saying, ‘Surely you have a better candidate.’”

The comments follow those of another party figure who said on Tuesday Mrs Sudmalis had“signed her own death warrant” by putting her name to a petition vowing not to vote for South Coast MP Shelley Hancock and Kiama MP Gareth Ward if the merger proposal for Kiama and Shoalhaven councils proceeded.

“At this point there is no viable alternative candidate but that may change if Ann’s endorsement is withheld,” the source told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

Mrs Sudmalis’s future will be decided at a meeting of the party’s federal electoral council on May 1. It is understood Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is keeping a close eye on the unfolding drama in Gilmore.

The embattled MP said she had signed the petition at a public meeting in Nowra on March 10 thinking it was an attendance record.

Several witnesses have come forward to dispute Mrs Sudmalis’s recollection of events.

Claire Proudfoot, wife of the meeting convenor Bob Proudfoot, who is a member of the Labor Party, told Fairfax Media said she had manned the desk at the Nowra meeting, where she had seen MrsSudmalis sign the petition after being told of its nature.

“We made it very clear to people it was a petition against the merger. Mrs Sudmalis said she knew exactly what it was and went ahead and signed it,” Mrs Proudfoot said.

She said the petition was explained at every public meeting.

“[Shoalhaven Mayor] Jo Gash went to sign it at the first meeting at Sanctuary Point but when we told her it was a petition against the mergernot an attendance record she said she wouldn’t sign it.”

Former Shoalhaven councillor John Willmott also said he had seen Mrs Sudmalis warned the document she was signing was a petition.

MISTAKE: Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis an anti-council merger rally in Shellharbour. Mrs Sudmalis says she signed a petition in error.

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