Jeremy Hanson is the new leader of the Canberra Liberals. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Newly elected Canberra Liberals leader Jeremy Hanson has vowed to fight against what he called the ''most radical'' left-wing government in Australia.
Mr Hanson, elected on Monday with Alistair Coe as his deputy, immediately went on the attack against the Labor-Greens alliance and pledged to bring back ''good common-sense values'' if the party won power.
Mr Hanson defeated former leader and deputy leader Brendan Smyth in a party room ballot held at the Legislative Assembly after the resignation of Zed Seselja, who will challenge for a Senate seat.
The Canberra Liberals elected a new leader after Zed Seselja stood down to challenge for a federal seat. The Liberals are, from left, Andrew Wall, Alistair Coe, Brendan Smyth, Jeremy Hanson, Steve Doszpot and Giulia Jones. Photo: Karleen Minney
Despite speculation by party figures that Mr Coe had done a deal with Mr Seselja for the leadership, the Ginninderra MLA did not nominate for the top job.
Instead, Mr Coe was elected unopposed to the deputy leader's role after Mr Hanson's defeat of Mr Smyth.
Mr Seselja will stay on the front bench in the short-term while he pursues his preselection challenge to sitting senator Gary Humphries.
The new leader is a decorated former army officer who was first elected to the Assembly in 2008 and has served as opposition spokesman on health, corrections and indigenous affairs.
He declined to say by what margin he had won the caucus ballot, which he described as ''robust'' and a ''tussle''. ''It's been a very robust week for us,'' Mr Hanson said.
''There are a number of very talented people in the Liberal Party with very strong leadership credentials.
''Ultimately I won out on the day, but that doesn't mean any less of those people who were considering and who ultimately put their hand up. Brendan [Smyth] is someone who has my respect and the respect of the whole team, and eventually all of us in parliamentary politics, we'll win or lose, and today I won.''
Mr Hanson attacked the Labor-Greens ACT government accusing it of being out-of-touch with ordinary Canberrans. ''The sole surviving Greens member [Shane Rattenbury] then said he's going to make this the most green, the most progressive, meaning left-wing, government in Australia,'' Mr Hanson said.
''Now I don't think that's what most Canberrans voted for, they
didn't vote for the most extreme government in Australia.'' Mr Hanson said the territory's voters wanted a government that ''doesn't want their plastic bags banned while they're building public art, that wants people focusing on emergency departments, not needle and syringe programs in the jail.''
''They want good common-sense values and that's what the Liberal Party stands for,'' he said.
''It's what it stood for under Zed Seselja and that's what it stands for under Jeremy Hanson.''
Both ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Greens minister Shane Rattenbury greeted Mr Hanson's rise by taking aim at the ACT Liberal Party's perceived style of politics
"I think probably the best advice for Jeremy that I can give him is that he's going to need to temper some of his behaviour,'' Ms Gallagher said.
''He's been the bully boy of the Liberal Party.
''That's the role he's played in the Assembly, it's a role he's played outside of the Assembly and I think perhaps now he's leader he will have to change that style, certainly if he wants to deal with me.''
Mr Rattenbury agreed. ''The issue going forward is that over the last four years that I've been in Assembly I've seen a very adversarial style of politics from the Liberals under the leadership of Zed Seselja,'' he said.
''I think the question for both the new leader and deputy leader is whether they could put that type of politics aside and focus on putting forward new ideas.
''Jeremy and Alistair have both been very good at criticising but short on solution and ideas over the past four years.'' When asked if the local Liberals had moved to the political right in recent years, the Mr Hanson denied any factionalism in the party.
''We're all Liberals and there is no left and right in the Liberal Party,'' he said. ''There are no factions in the way there are in the Labor Party. We have an abundance of talent in the Liberal Party which has made this leadership ballot the tussle that it's been and it's been a good one.
''We don't get controlled by grey men in the back rooms smoking cigars, there are no captain's picks, we are a true democratic party.''