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Liberal maverick Russell Broadbent defects to crossbench after losing preselection

Long serving Liberal moderate Russell Broadbent has defected to the crossbench.

Broadbent, 72, at the weekend was overwhelmingly defeated for preselection for his Victorian seat of Monash. He received only 16 out of more than 190 votes. He lost to Mary Aldred, daughter of one time federal MP Ken Aldred.

Broadbent informed Tuesday’s parliamentary Liberal party meeting of his decision.

He said he believed the vote revoked his licence to represent the Liberal Party. But he strongly encouraged the party to support the leader.

In the Howard years Broadbent was one of a powerful group of moderates who challenged the government over its policies on asylum seekers. He was very close to the then member for Kooyong Petro Georgiou.

Despite his moderate views on many issues Broadbent was one of only four MPs in the House of Representatives to vote against the marriage equality legislation in 2017.

In the recent Voice referendum, he initially supported a “yes” vote but then changed his mind after talking with local Indigenous elders.

He is the second Coalition MP to defect to the crossbench this term. The other is Andrew Gee, who left the Nationals over the party’s opposition to the Voice. The crossbench in the House now numbers 18.

Broadbent was first elected in 1990 for the seat of Corinella, but was defeated in 1993. He won McMillan in 1996 only to lose it in 1998. He regained that seat in 2004, and has been in parliament ever since. He has represented Monash since 2019 following an electoral redistribution.

Aldred is the head of government relations in the Asia Pacific at Fujitsu. She is a step-sister of former federal Liberal minister Alan Tudge, who quit parliament earlier this term, causing the Liberals to lose the seat of Aston. Her father Ken Aldred, who died in 2016, served in parliament in 1975-80 and in 1983-1996.

In a statement, Victorian Liberal Party President Philip Davis thanked Broadbent for his 25 years of service as a Liberal MP.

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