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Smyth, Hanson 'lead candidates' for Libs leadership

Date

Hamish Boland-Rudder

Zed Seselja with possible leadership contenders Alistair Coe, Jeremy Hanson and Brendan Smyth.

Zed Seselja with possible leadership contenders Alistair Coe, Jeremy Hanson and Brendan Smyth. Photo: Karleen Minney

Deputy Liberal leader Brendan Smyth and senior frontbencher Jeremy Hanson have been acknowledged as the lead contenders for the Liberal leadership, as outgoing leader Zed Seslja denies the resignation of two Liberal party heavyweights was to help with lobbying for his tilt at the ACT Senate seat.

The opposition's eight MLAs will gather on Monday to decide who will replace Zed Seselja, who has announced that he is resigning as Liberal leader and making a preselection challenge to ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries.

Mr Seselja told ABC radio on Tuesday morning that the ACT Liberals should aim for stability in leadership after his departure, and agreed that Mr Smyth and Mr Hanson are two of the strongest candidates.

He applauded Mr Hanson’s work in the health portfolio and his strong polling at the territory’s last election. He said Mr Smyth had served well as deputy leader.

“We need to consider all of those things, we need to consider the electoral appeal, we need to consider the personal strengths, we need to consider the experience, and I think the party will do that and make a decision,” Mr Seselja said.

“I’ve got the highest regard for both those individuals.”

Mr Seselja said the decision would be made by the party on Monday, and denied he would flex his muscle as the outgoing leader to anoint a successor.

“I’m certainly considering my position and what I’m doing,” he said. “I’m not going to try to impose my will from above on the Liberal Party.”

Likely contenders for the Canberra Liberal leadership went to ground on Monday with none of the party's MLAs willing to declare their hand.

But party whip Alistair Coe, himself a potential contender for the leader or deputy leader's role, said that no one had ruled themselves in or out.

Speaking in his role as whip, the Ginninderra MLA said that he and Mr Seselja will convene the Liberal caucus meeting with the leader declaring his job open.

"I don't think anyone in the party room is ruling themselves in or ruling themselves out,” Mr Coe said.

Heavyweights’ resignations ‘not for lobbying’

Mr Seselja has denied that the decision by two ACT Liberal party heavyweights to leave his office late last year was linked to lobbying for his ACT Senate seat tilt.

Controversial Canberra Liberals powerbroker Tio Faulkner quit his position as director of electorate services in December, but chose to stay on as ACT party president.

A second powerbroker, Stephen Doyle - Mr Seselja's chief-of-staff, brother-in-law and Canberra Liberals campaign manager - also left the ACT Legislative Assembly after he opted out of a contract renewal late last year.

But Mr Seselja said their departures were not related to his decision to challenge Senator Humphries, and said there were no plans for either to join Mr Seselja should he win the Senate seat.

“Both of them came to the end of the term and took the decision that they were going to take some time off and move on and then have a think about where they might go,” he said.

“I think it’s highly unlikely that either of them would come work for me if I was successful.”

Mr Seselja also said he was not concerned about federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s endorsement of Mr Humphries in the preselection battle.

“It’s not unexpected. I think there’s been a pretty strong tradition of leaders of the federal parliamentary Liberal Party generally endorsing incumbents,” he said.

He said he had spoken to Mr Abbott about running, but would not comment on whether or not Mr Abbott supported his decision.

with Noel Towell and Michael Inman

7 comments so far

  • So... in other words Mr Abbott said "quit these shennigans, take your ball and go home"

    Commenter
    Regie
    Date and time
    February 05, 2013, 11:33AM
    • One would think that the leader who brought the ACT Liberals to within a whisper of forming Government and almost totally wiping out the Greens would be emboldened by his performance and stay on to fight (and most likely win) the next election.
      What this says to me is Zed is not a stayer.
      Further, as a senator - would Zed cross the floor on ACT rights as Humphries has? There's nothing about his past performance to suggest he will......

      Commenter
      Nick
      Location
      Yarralumla
      Date and time
      February 05, 2013, 11:40AM
      • Hanson, your kidding aren't you, what has he done???
        Smyth, a snake in the grass, the 2nd Class ACT Citizens remember him as the person who on the advise of his then party leader heavy handidly closed down the successful privately funded, volunteer constructed and managed Canberra International Dragway to suit their top end of town mates and THAT IS A FACT..

        Commenter
        Nitro Gangster
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        February 05, 2013, 12:19PM
        • The obvious question would be "why"? Given that ACT voters always elect one Labor and one Liberal Senator resulting in absolutely nothing getting done, why challenge the incumbent? The ACT Liberals appear to be more "Wet" than the Tony Abbott "Dries" of NSW, so what can Mr Seselja hope to achieve that is not already being done, or not being done, as the case seems to be? Mr Seselja seems to be doing it purely to look after his own career.

          Commenter
          Drive like a clown
          Location
          Belconnen
          Date and time
          February 05, 2013, 12:24PM
          • And this is the choice, my god ACT Green Labor must be laughing out loud, really, really loud.

            Commenter
            Nitro Gangster
            Location
            ACT
            Date and time
            February 05, 2013, 2:12PM
            • You took the words out of my mouth - what a sad, sorry selection the Libs have to choose from, no wonder a lazy, reactive leader like Zed was able to maintain his "stable" leadership for so long - Jeremy Hansen proved last year he is more interested in gutter politics and trying to smear personal reputations than he is in achieving any real results for Canberrans, so perhaps he will slither effortlessly into Zed's non too hard working shoes.

              Commenter
              Janie1
              Date and time
              February 05, 2013, 7:34PM
          • Smyth again??? They are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for talent if they are going to recycle the ex-leader who lost the 2004 election, the first and only time a single party (Labor) won a majority in its own right.

            Commenter
            Grant
            Date and time
            February 05, 2013, 2:46PM

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