Jensen 'extremely arrogant' before dumping

Former federal Liberal MP Dennis Jensen is suing over two articles in The Australian in 2016.
Former federal Liberal MP Dennis Jensen is suing over two articles in The Australian in 2016.

In his unsuccessful last ditch pitch to win Liberal candidacy for the fifth time, dumped federal MP Dennis Jensen was "extremely arrogant" and seemingly indignant pre-selectors would dare think of not voting for him, a court has heard.

Dr Jensen held the seat of Tangney for four terms before he was thrashed by former WA Liberal state director Ben Morton in a 57-7 vote ahead of the 2016 election.

He is suing News Corp's publishing arm Nationwide News and journalist Andrew Burrell for defamation over two articles published in The Australian days before the pre-selection contest, arguing they were a major reason for his thumping loss.

But a key adviser between 2006 and 2008, Godfrey Lowe, told the WA Supreme Court Dr Jensen had largely lost the backing of colleagues and constituents before the vote.

Mr Lowe was one of the pre-selectors and says he backed Mr Morton, who gave the impression of being a very competent political operator, while he'd lost faith in Dr Jensen's abilities as a local MP.

"He didn't have a good network of people within the parliamentary party," Mr Lowe testified in the Supreme Court of Western Australia on Thursday.

"His human interaction was not warm. He didn't have the ease with people you would expect of an accomplished politician.

"He would stand and talk but not work the room."

Mr Lowe said he once compiled a list of colleagues who could support Dr Jensen on certain issues, urging him to cultivate alliances, but eventually "gave up".

He went on to work for Mike Nahan, whose state seat sits within Tangney, and says he saw the now WA opposition leader greatly lifting his public profile by virtually knocking on every door within his seat, in contrast to Dr Jensen.

Constituents would shake their head when Dr Jensen was discussed, he said.

Mr Lowe said he was amazed when his former employer hectored pre-selectors in his final candidacy pitch, which conveyed a view it should be left up to electors to vote him out, not them.

"There was a sense of indignance," he said.

"That was not the right approach. There should have been a degree of humility."

Mr Lowe said the news reports didn't affect the way he voted "at all" and he didn't recall fellow pre-selectors talking about them.

The main discussion was Mr Morton being a far better candidate, he said.

He denied any involvement in leaking documents, including an unpublished racy war novel Dr Jensen wrote, to Burrell.

Australian Associated Press