Peel Hotel owner Tom McFeely has ruled out his sexuality playing any part in his hasty departure, then sudden return to the Liberal Party last week.
Within a 24-hour period last week McFeely announced he would leave the Liberal’s and stand as an Independent in the inner city seat of Richmond, then reversed the decision.
McFeely told Southern Star Observer there was a simple explanation. “Basically, it came down to a miscommunication from an inexperienced staffer, nothing to do with policy, gay stuff … absolutely not,” he said.
“I’ve always said the Liberal Party, they’re friendlier than some in the Labor Party, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Liberal, I’m saying it as a fact.”
It’s understood the disagreement was over the use of a photograph for McFeely’s campaign material.
McFeely said the staffer didn’t understand the “uniqueness” of his campaign.
“A well-meaning but inexperienced staffer just happened to make the wrong call to me, a phone call at the wrong moment,” he said.
“I was a bit of a drama queen and spat the dummy. It’s all sorted now so hopefully we’ll move on.”
McFeely said differing opinions about where the party should preference Greens candidates didn’t play into his decision to quit and re-join.
“It’s up to the party to decide on preferences,” he said. “My personal view is, I don’t think any party should take anything for granted.
“I will formulate my view when I see what’s put on the table …c loser to the time.”
McFeely will run against sitting Labor MP Richard Wynne, Greens candidate Kathleen Maltzahn and the Socialist Party’s Stephen Jolly.
Richmond has been held by Labor since 1909. Wynne holds it by a margin of 3.6 percent.
ABC election pundit Antony Green tips the seat will be a tight contest between Labor and the Greens, with Labor forced to go to preferences at the 2002 and 2006 elections by the Greens.