Former Howard government minister Richard Alston has been elected national president of the Liberal Party.
His only competition in the race was NSW mortgage broker and party maverick John Ruddick, who was pushing for greater grassroots participation for members including a say in the preselection of Senate candidates.
“The Liberal Party should be a democracy in a democracy,” Mr Ruddick told delegates at the party’s federal council in Melbourne on Friday evening.
Mr Alston nominated maintaining the party’s strong financial standing, building up membership and winning the next round of state elections as his key goals.
A total of 112 delegates voted in the ballot.
Outgoing president Alan Stockdale delivered a farewell address calling on the party to change its fundraising focus to attracting a high volume of small donations.
He urged the party to increase women’s participation and recruit more female candidates.
However, he did not believe quotas were necessary.
Mr Stockdale said the party should consider corporate memberships.
The honorary treasurer Philip Higginson lamented that the party did not have the same “rivers of gold” that Labor had with the union movement.
But the party had raised $20 million more in 2012-13 compared to the previous financial year’s effort of $55 million.
The numbers were still being crunched and audited for this financial year which ends in a few days.
However, he flagged it would be another “significant high achievement”.
That would mean three years of fundraising records, he said.
The party elected four vice presidents – Rosemary Craddock, Karl Morris, Fay Duda and Tom Harley.