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National Party Leader in New South Wales comments on Premier Fahey's stance on three-cornered contests in southern New South Wales Federal seats

PETER THOMPSON: Some of the most outspoken criticism of the Liberal leaders, John Fahey in New South Wales and John Hewson, has come from the New South Wales National Party Leader, Wal Murray. Mr Murray says they're being controlled by the faceless men of the Liberal Party machine and he warns it's unacceptable to the Australian people. This morning, Wal Murray told Marius Benson that he welcomes the latest statement from Premier John Fahey in which he said he'd quit if the dispute over three-cornered contests spilled over from Federal to State seats.

WAL MURRAY: Mr Fahey has made it very clear this morning and I congratulate him and thank him for his support. The fact is, he's made it fairly clear to his executive what he believes in, and I think even the faceless men of the Liberal Party would recognise that.

MARIUS BENSON: But you say at the moment that those faceless men are actually controlling Mr Fahey as the State leader and the Federal leader, John Hewson.

WAL MURRAY: Well, I think the fact is that the statements made this morning will reverse that situation, at least one would hope.

MARIUS BENSON: Why will it change now when public statements by both Mr Fahey and Mr Hewson in the past have failed to change the party organisation's mind?

WAL MURRAY: I think at this stage again Mr Fahey has made it quite clear he won't be there if they don't.

MARIUS BENSON: But he's only said that will happen if it spills into the State arena. Do you believe that's likely?

WAL MURRAY: Well, it depends what happens in the Federal arena, doesn't it?

MARIUS BENSON: But if there's no resolution, if this three-cornered contest in the Federal arena goes ahead, will it spill into the State arena?

WAL MURRAY: I don't think you can be hypothetical about it. The basis of it is, let's wait and see.

MARIUS BENSON: What do you expect will happen?

WAL MURRAY: I don't know. I would hope that the faceless men would remove their endorsement of the two candidates from Hume and Riverina.

MARIUS BENSON: Can I put to you a quote in the Sydney Morning Herald, you're quoted this morning as saying there is no way you can prevent this from flowing on from the Federal sphere to New South Wales. Did you say that and do you mean it?

WAL MURRAY: Yes. If they continue on the process that they're on, it'll automatically flow.

MARIUS BENSON: And that, according to Mr Fahey, would result in his resignation?

WAL MURRAY: Well, that's if the Liberal Party continue the way they're going.

MARIUS BENSON: And you're saying that that position taken now publicly by Mr Fahey will change the position taken by the party organisation?

WAL MURRAY: Well, it certainly changes my position at this stage to the extent that I'm prepared to give them time to work something out, and that's an essential part of the process.

MARIUS BENSON: So far, what do you think this dispute has revealed about Mr Fahey's leadership?

WAL MURRAY: I think it's showing now very, very strong leadership. I've never had any trouble working with Fahey; I don't want to have any trouble working with Fahey; I expect not to have any trouble working with Fahey.

MARIUS BENSON: And Dr Hewson's leadership. What do you make of that out of this dispute?

WAL MURRAY: Well, the same thing would apply.

MARIUS BENSON: What do you mean by that?

WAL MURRAY: Well, I would hope that the commonsense of the faceless men would come around and recognise it as essential to beat Labor, to be in government as a Coalition, rather than fighting against each other and jeopardise that government.

MARIUS BENSON: But if the faceless men do prevail, where does that leave you in dealing with Mr Fahey and Dr Hewson?

WAL MURRAY: You're once again making assumptions. I am not going to make hypothetical assumptions.

MARIUS BENSON: Are you prepared to endorse their leadership regardless of the outcome of this issue?

WAL MURRAY: I'm prepared to endorse their leadership as I have done all the way along the line. My statement is that they are being led by people, by faceless men of the Liberal Party, and that is fact.

PETER THOMPSON: Wal Murray, the National Party leader in New South Wales. A short time ago, the National Party leader federally, Tim Fischer, contacted A.M. Mr Fischer says: 'There will be no repeat of 1987 whatsoever, no tampering with the endorsement of National Party candidates as happened then. There will be no policy tampering. There is full support for Fightback'. He continues: 'The conservatives have an awesome responsibility to ensure they bring about the change of government federally, that everyone is demanding as enough is enough'.