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Some Liberal Party members push for further action by the Opposition Leader against Senator Crichton-Browne

ELLEN FANNING: There's been no let-up in the campaign against West Australian Liberal powerbroker, Noel Crichton-Browne. Senior Liberals were hopeful his resignation from the position of Deputy President of the Senate would ease pressure on the party, but the drama has marred the trip to Western Australia by the Opposition Leader, John Howard. He would have hoped to have sorted out all the problems by the time he leaves the west later today, but it appears more likely he'll leave a faction of the party contemplating further action against the State's key powerbroker. Ross Solley reports from Perth.

ROSS SOLLEY: There are moves under way to convene a special State conference of the Western Australia Liberal Party, a meeting where the decision to select Noel Crichton-Browne to the top position on the West Australian Senate ticket would be re-examined. First, at least ten branches of the Liberal Party need to inform the State Executive they want a special conference. Sources within the party are confident at least that many want the matter re-examined. Despite the best efforts of John Howard and other senior Liberals, the issue is not going away. Mr Howard's biggest problem is the State party's continued support for Senator Crichton-Browne. As of last night, both the Party President, David Honey, and the Premier, Richard Court, were still defending the man many say is the most powerful Liberal in the west.

Yesterday, in State Parliament, the Labor Party announced it had referred to police allegations Senator Crichton-Browne was involved in insurance fraud in 1992. According to a document tabled by the Labor Party, which it claims came from the same people in the Liberal Party circulating copies of the restraining order taken out against the Senator, he lodged an insurance claim for a mobile telephone which he claimed fell off the top of a car. The insurance company paid out more than $2,000, but within two years, according to the document, had received their money back as repayment for a fraudulent claim.

Few people are prepared to speak publicly any more about the goings on inside the State Liberal Party. One who did, albeit briefly, was Barbara Gaskin, a grassroots member of the Liberal Party who told ABC radio's Peter Kennedy the party would suffer considerably if the Senator remained in the number one Senate position.

BARBARA GASKIN: How can we persuade people to vote Liberal when you've got someone like this at the top of the ticket, the Senate ticket? Now, it's not much good us getting John Howard into the Lower House if we can't get the Senate at least a fair representation in the Senate. How can you go to people who are swinging voters and say, you know: Well, I know a lot has been said about this man, but we want you to vote for him. I know that a lot of people feel that Senator Crichton-Browne should resign. There have been people resigned from Parliament for far les than this. And could I just say, I feel terribly sorry for his wife; I have great sympathy for her. It must be dreadful to have this dragged up again after so many years, and she must have wondered for all these years if it would become public. But as party members, we can't vote on sympathy, we have to be practical, not emotional, and we have to ask ourselves: Can we win an election with this man heading our Senate ticket?

PETER KENNEDY: And you've got your doubts?

BARBARA GASKIN: I definitely. I don't think we can.

ROSS SOLLEY: Meanwhile, an ABC television report last night identified former Fraser Government Minister, Ian Viner, as the man who successfully requested a copy of the Crichton-Browne restraining order from the courts. As a former State president, Mr Viner, who is now a leading Perth Queen's Counsel, was a fierce opponent of the Crichton-Browne faction. He would not comment last night on the latest allegations. Another former opponent of Senator Crichton-Browne's, Fred Chaney, also broke his silence last night. During the 1980s, members of the West Australian Liberal Party were classified either as members of the Crichton-Browne faction or the Chaney faction. In his weekly radio spot, also with ABC radio's Peter Kennedy, Mr Chaney showed the old wounds hadn't healed.

FRED CHANEY: I mean, I think Noel remains in a position of very great power and influence in Western Australia. I mean, it's interesting that the Courts continue to give him such overt support and I think that's been really one of the sad features of the last 10-15 years, that when people have come forward and complained about the way the party has been organised, the way it's been run, he's always been able to count on support of either Sir Charles or Richard, and I think that's a shame because they're the two people who I think could have made a difference.

ELLEN FANNING: Former Liberal Senator, Fred Chaney, and that report was compiled by Ross Solley in Perth.