ACT Liberal, Alistair Coe. Photo: Karleen Minney
A deal by Zed Seselja to secure his numbers for the ACT Senate nomination seems set to hand Alistair Coe the Canberra Liberals leadership in Monday's ballot.
Brendan Smyth is poised to retain his role as deputy leader.
ACT Senator Gary Humphries said an agreement had been reached that Mr Coe, 29, who controls large numbers within the Young Liberals, would support Mr Seselja's Senate bid in exchange for the opposition leadership.
Party insiders have confirmed the plan, which would sideline the opposition health spokesman, Jeremy Hanson, who was a standout performer during the ACT election campaign and seen as the frontrunner to take over from Mr Seselja.
Mr Seselja did not deny such a deal had been struck on Sunday, saying only that the Canberra Liberals' eight-strong caucus would meet at 12.30pm on Monday and a new leader ''will be announced after the party room''.
Internal feuding in the Canberra Liberals over the Senate preselection has been rife since Mr Seselja announced last week that he would challenge Senator Humphries for his seat.
Senator Humphries and ACT division members have criticised the process saying it was timed to minimise the amount of support the senator could mobilise before the February 23 preselection vote.
Senator Humphries said on Sunday there was a move by the right of the ACT Liberals to control the party both federally and in the Legislative Assembly.
He said he was informed of the leadership deal over the weekend and Liberals MLAs had also been ''apprised of what's going on''.
''There is essentially a move by the right of the party, with the Young Liberals basically in the thick of this,'' he said.
''The trade-off is that Zed gets the Senate seat and Alistair gets the leadership of the ACT party.
''It's all a move to have the right controlling the party in both sections [of government].
''Zed has done a deal with Alistair to produce that outcome.
''I have no doubt at all that this will happen.''
Senator Humphries described the alleged deal as ''a sad day for the Liberal Party''.
''It directly relates to my preselection and Canberrans need to understand what is going on inside the Liberal Party at the moment,'' he said.
''I think it's a sad day for the Liberal Party when deals of this kind are done and are all about taking positions of power and not what is in the best long-term interests of the people of Canberra.
''The pay-off for Zed getting in the Senate is Alistair now gets the leadership of the party.
''The reason for that is Alistair controls the Young Liberals and therefore a lot of votes.''
Mr Coe, Mr Smyth and Mr Hanson would not comment on Sunday.
Mr Seselja would not confirm that Mr Coe and Mr Smyth would be the party's new leadership team, but the outgoing leader did not deny such an agreement had been reached.
''That will all be announced [on Monday],'' Mr Seselja said.
''There will be a vote and that will be announced after the party room.
''I'm not going to pre-empt it.''