Country Liberal Party figures did not approach Senator Sam McMahon about an orderly transition from the role in favour of Jacinta Price – the new CLP Senate candidate – and instead waged a politically damaging “nefarious and underhanded” campaign to discredit her in the days leading up to yesterday’s preselection contest, she told the NT Independent.
Jacinta Price was preselected on Saturday by party members to be the top candidate for the CLP senate ticket at the next federal election, ultimately ending Ms McMahon’s political career.
In an interview last evening, Ms McMahon said that while she doesn’t hold the party as a whole responsible for the political mess that transpired this week – including allegations of her being being drunk in the Senate and a toxic workplace in her office – certain party operatives were out to smear her.
She also suggested she would be reviewing her legal options.
“I hold nothing against Jacinta, she’s a fine person,” Ms McMahon said after losing preselection as the CLP’s Senate candidate to Ms Price for the next Federal election.
“But the way it unfolded was extremely nefarious and underhanded tactics were used by political foes.
“There’s a fair few people who aren’t the Senator who would like to be. Some will resort to whatever they can to give them an advantage, and I’m not saying she did that, but there were dirty underhanded tactics [used by some].
“I will consider my [legal] options. There has been a whole pile of defamatory statements during preselection.”
Ms McMahon continued to refute claims first reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday that at least 10 colleagues in the Senate had accused her of being heavily intoxicated, forcing her to leave the chamber late Tuesday night.
She said she has a medical certificate that proved she was suffering from hypertension.
That politically damaging story was followed by a Sky News piece later in the week featuring disgruntled former employee Brad Gaddes telling the news outlet that a fridge in Ms McMahon’s office was so full of beer he couldn’t fit his lunch inside it.
He also alleged he was subjected to bullying and intimidation, “mostly” by a staff member in Ms McMahon’s office last year and that he had heard “so much profanity” during a “verbal altercation” involving Ms McMahon and another staffer in her office at an undisclosed time that upset him and caused concern for his “personal safety”.
Ms McMahon rejected Mr Gaddes’ claims and said the workplace grievances had been resolved through parliamentary workplace measures and that he had been satisfied with the outcome.
“He has his own reasons to come out just before preselection,” she said.
She also refuted claims of a booze-fuelled culture in her office.
“Ok, there’s some beer in the fridge at Parliament House, anyone can help themselves and we provide beer and wine to guests quite often,” she said.
“You make out that’s an alcohol culture? It’s just ridiculous.”
Ms McMahon also lambasted Mr Gaddes for suggesting she had been the victim of violence, while she claimed he simultaneously suggested the alleged violence was part of the culture she had created.
“I find it disgraceful that a woman should be attacked by a man criticising her for allegedly being attacked by another man,” she said in an earlier statement.
“The logic of that escapes me and the media needs to consider the way it reports these matters.”
CLP investigated Ms McMahon last year; NT’s lower house seats could prove key to victory for Coalition
The NT Independent revealed in June of last year that Ms McMahon was under investigation by the CLP and the federal parliament following reports of “serious misconduct and physical altercations” with a staff member.
The investigation eventually led to Ms McMahon’s chief of staff Jason Riley resigning, although details of the incident were never made public.
Ms McMahon said that while she feels betrayed by certain individuals in the party, the party had been supportive overall and she will continue to serve the NT as Senator until the next federal election.
“I think I’ve achieved a lot in a few short years,” she said. “There’s still a lot I’d like to achieve.”
She said based on voting projections, the two Territory lower house seats in the federal parliament could determine the outcome of the next federal election.
“Those seats could be absolutely critical in deciding the next election and whether it’s Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese who governs the country,” she said.
“I do worry about what will happen to those two seats at the election. I think they were winnable. But I worry now without me being able to campaign as effectively for those seats.”
The CLP preselected previous failed Lingiari candidate Tina MacFarlane to carry the flag in Solomon against Labor incumbent Luke Gosling.
Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan will contest the seat of Lingiari for the CLP after long-serving member Warren Snowdon retired. He will face current NLC CEO and Labor candidate Marion Scrymgour.