Jeremy Hanson has been dumped as the ACT's deputy opposition leader, in a significant move that followed weeks of tension within the Canberra Liberals.
Mr Hanson was replaced by Leanne Castley, after losing a snap party room vote 5-3 on Monday morning, but has vowed to stay on in the Legislative Assembly.
Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee announced the change on Monday morning, saying the decision to spill the position of deputy leader had not been taken lightly.
"Going into an election year, it is more important than ever to have a leadership team that is in lockstep, and I know Leanne will support me 100 per cent and the direction we are taking to win government in 2024," Ms Lee said.
Mr Hanson referred The Canberra Times to a statement he posted to social media. He wrote on Facebook he was disappointed in the decision but indicated he would stay on as a member.
"I am disappointed to have been removed as deputy leader of the Canberra Liberals today," he said.
"I will continue to work hard for our community as a loyal and passionate member of the Canberra Liberals team."
Ms Lee declined to say whether she had asked Mr Hanson to resign from the position or whether she called the spill.
"There's no doubt that the party room has had a say in who they want to see moving forward in the leadership team," she told a press conference.
"And I have never and will never take my own position for granted. The leadership role and the deputy leadership role are both gifts of the party room and I am incredibly conscious of that."
The move will also result in a shuffle of shadow portfolio responsibilities, which the party said would be announced in the coming days. Ms Castley said she loved her shadow health portfolio but indicated that role was up for discussion.
Mr Hanson, who has aligned himself with conservatives in the party, had been at odds with Ms Lee over a recent ballot for the party's president at an annual general meeting last month.
Members voted in favour of an empty chair to dump conservative president John Cziesla, although the result has now been challenged.
Mr Hanson, who has supported Mr Cziesla at the annual general meeting, will lose his ex officio position on the party's management committee.
Party insiders also say Mr Hanson's position had become untenable after he took public positions at odds with Ms Lee.
Mr Hanson had supported federal intervention over the Calvary hospital takeover earlier this year and backed a "no" vote in the referendum on a constitutionally recognised Voice to Federal Parliament.
"I think people play into those sort of games, but at the end of the day as a team of nine members, we're all Liberals, we're all committed to Canberra," Mr Hanson said of factional differences when he was elected deputy leader.
After the 2020 election loss, Mr Hanson had contested a party room vote to become leader but lost to Ms Lee.
Ms Lee thanked Mr Hanson, saying she had no doubt he would continue to work "very constructively" for the community, and said she was looking forward to working with Ms Castley.
"Leanne brings a unique set of skills and experience to the deputy leader role and I have no doubt she will be a terrific asset for me and the entire Canberra Liberals team," Ms Lee said.
Ms Castley, who holds a seat in Yerrabi and was elected in 2020, said she looked forward to taking on the role and supporting Ms Lee in the lead up to the 2024 election.
"I will hit the ground running and I am excited to work with the entire team in this new role," Ms Castley said in a statement issued by the party on Monday.
Ms Castley said she would do whatever it took to support Ms Lee and dismissed concern it was too soon for a first-term Assembly member to take on a leadership role.
"When the opportunity presented itself, I thought, yes, let's have a go at this because I do believe Elizabeth certainly needs that strong team and I'm here for that," she said.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Monday's announcement showed the Canberra Liberals were deeply divided in their party room and warned Canberrans to be wary of the "deep seated conservatism" in the Opposition.
"The direction that Peter Dutton is taking the party at the federal level is obviously having an impact at the local level," Mr Barr said.
"They are all conservatives at heart - it is just a question of degree. Presenting Leanne Castley as a moderate is laughable."