The Tasmanian Senator featured in a Hobart Mercury report after a former Liberal Party candidate and Miss
Tasmania beauty Sue Hickey and Hobart lawyer and Hobart City Council alderman Elise Archer, the Liberal's star candidate, clashed at a private function at the Taste of Tasmania. Denison
Apparently there was a bit of pushing and shoving between the ladies after Mrs Archer approached Ms Hickey at the function and, according to the Mercury, questioned an inference she had made regarding too many lawyers standing for State Parliament. Despite the conversation being conducted in private between the two women, it has been alleged it soon turned heated and involved both women claiming the other had swung an arm in a threatening manner. Witnesses included Hobart Deputy Mayor Helen Burnett and Margaret Valentine, the wife of Lord Mayor Rob Valentine. Ms Burnett, who is a Green candidate in the state election, then intervened but was allegedly told by Mrs Archer's husband and former Liberal Party state president Dale Archer to "f... off".
Just like a family Christmas function really but by the next day it was being reported as an example of the deep divisions existing between moderates and hard liners in the Tasmanian Liberal Party. Accusations are flying, said The Mercury, that conservative Liberal candidates such as Elise Archer, Jacquie Petrusma and Michael Ferguson are being favoured by party powerbrokers at the expense of more moderate candidates. "It's called favouritism; it's help in every way, it's being given the clear passage into Parliament by the party without any obstacles put in your way," a Liberal member said. "Sue Hickey is a prime example of another very good business person, a great Liberal candidate, being dragged down by the [Liberal Senator Eric] Abetz, Archer and Co clique."
With a State election just 12 weeks away, the Liberal Parliamentary Leader Will Hodgman was less than pleased that his colleagues were pushing the Sydney-Hobart yacht race down the news headlines in this way. A gag order was sent by phone text to all Liberal candidates forbidding them from talking to the media about divisions and the growing influence of the party's hard-right faction.