More than 200 women crowded in a room with no masks or social distancing despite COVID-19 rules restricting weddings and funerals to 100 people.
The South Australian Liberals have been branded hypocrites for allowing their Women’s Council annual general meeting to go ahead at the Adelaide Oval convention centre on Thursday night – one day after everyone else was told to have no more ten people in their home.
An outraged SA Liberal Party member told Daily Mail Australia it was hypocritical for Premier Steven Marshall to allow such a large gathering as his government told South Australians they could no longer have 50 people as house guests.
Helika Cruz, a state delegate to the Liberal Women’s Council in South Australia, posted a series of images to her public Facebook page (pictured) that show rows of women sitting closely to each other without wearing masks
‘It is hypocritical for Steven Marshall to limit indoor gatherings to ten this week and allow the meeting to go ahead,’ she said.
The female party member also criticised how, in the middle of winter, elderly party members had to travel to the crowded meeting as temperatures fell to just eight degrees.
‘The poor elderly being dragged out to vote at night,’ she said.
An outraged SA Liberal Party member told Daily Mail Australia it was hypocritical for Premier Steven Marshall to allow such a large gathering as his government told South Australians they could no longer have 50 people as house guests
‘So much for democracy – the poor elderly plebs are told how to vote and handed a piece of paper.’
Another female party member, who belongs to the Liberal Women’s Council, was also outraged a crowded meeting was allowed during a pandemic.
‘As a SA Liberal Women’s Council member I place my safety first and I suggest all other women in @SALiberalSAHQ do the same DON’T attend this meeting,’ she said.
Helika Cruz, a state delegate to SA’s Liberal Women’s Council, posted a series of Facebook images showing rows of mainly elderly women sitting side-by-side on Thursday night.
In the photos, they are leaning in to speak with each other, breaching social distancing rules for the event.
The gathering had more than 200 women in the room with delegates having to be present to vote for executive positions.
Sue Lawrie, from the moderate faction, beat her conservative opponent Laura Curran, 184 votes to 38 to be elected president of the Liberal Women’s Council.
South Australia tightened coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, with household visitors reduced to ten again from 50.
PICTURED: A Council member tweeted this plea to other members prior to Thursday’s meeting
SA Liberal state director Sascha Meldrum defended the decision to hold the event (pictured) and said the same rules apply to the Liberal Party
The SA Liberal Party posted this photo with a caption: Contrary to ridiculous claims of a ‘lavish dinner’ and 700 people, it was in fact a sensibly seated, socially distanced group of Liberal women who met tonight
Pubs and bars are back to seated patrons only.
SA’s deputy Labor leader Susan Close is in self-isolation after attending an Adelaide high school where there has been a coronavirus case.
Five people linked to Thebarton Senior College have tested positive to COVID-19, forcing 70 people into quarantine and 1100 into self-isolation, including Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas.
Ms Close said Mr Marshall had demonstrated a lack of political judgement in failing to cancel the event.
‘To think it’s okay to have up to 700 Liberal Party members together shows a disregard for the experiences of other people,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Coincidentally, at the same time Peter Malinauskas and I are in self-isolation obeying health directives.’
Deputy SA Labor Leader Susan Close is in self-isolation after attending a local school in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak
Senator Rex Patrick tweeted his disgust before the event (pictured) citing ‘hypocrisy’ for allowing the event to go ahead
SA’s deputy Opposition Leader said the Liberal Party had disregarded the concerns of South Australians worried about the coronavirus pandemic.
‘It’s a terrible look for the Premier that the Liberal Party don’t have to experience the same hardships,’ she said.
‘If you want people to obey all the demands that are on us, you need to show very clearly that you understand that applies to everybody.’
SA Liberal state director Sascha Meldrum said they had never expected 700 people to attend and referenced last year’s event which attracted 300.
Ms Meldrum defended the decision to hold the event and said the same rules apply to the Liberal Party.
The state’s existing social distancing rules require one person per two-square metres, compared with the one person for every four square metres in most states.
‘The meeting complied with all current restrictions, and followed an SA Health approved COVID Safe Management Plan, the one per two-square metre rule, social distancing and hygiene requirements,’ Ms Meldrum said.
PICTURED: Tom Richardson tweeted that the event might have gone ahead to allow the moderates to win back the presidency from the right faction of the party
The SA Liberal source told the Daily Mail Australia her party’s moderate faction was desperate to hold the AGM to overturn the right-wing executive.
The Liberal Women’s Council president has a seat on the party’s state executive which Mr Marshall sits on.
The meeting last night also elected state council delegates who vote for the state executive and for Senate preselections.
The state executive also decides on Liberal preselections.
Daily Mail Australia understands the moderates are worried about the right destabilising a first-term Liberal Premier, who is devising a cabinet reshuffle.
Factional splits within the party saw a first-term Liberal premier, Dean Brown, overthrown in 1996 despite the moderate-faction leader winning power from opposition in a landslide just three years earlier.
Ms Close said the Liberal Party was in disarray, referencing the recent cabinet reshuffle and a travel allowance scandal.
‘We’ve lost five significant figures, three ministers, a whip and the presiding offer of the Legislative Council,’ she said.
‘I would hope that the decision to allow a meeting to go ahead wasn’t influenced by trying to keep the peace within the faction of the Liberal Party.’