The defeated Western Australian Liberal Party meets today to choose a
new leader. Matt Birney seems sure to get the top job, but who
will his deputy be?

Dan Sullivan or Paul Omodei are the men most likely, with locals
tipping Sullivan has the numbers – just. Sullivan is Birney’s
choice, but will he get him? How much is the deputy’s position
worth, anyway – and what does it matter after such a comprehensive
cock-up of a campaign?

The WA Electoral Commission has done a very poor job with the count in
the vital last few seats. There have been complaints that figures
on their website have lagged well behind the figures in the tally room,
leaving pols, pundits and the public totally baffled and confused.

This mood seems to have spread to the Liberal Party. Some senior
party figures – parliamentary and organizational – have even got the
date of the post mortem mixed up.

Alan Ramsey had an interesting piece on Birney’s father, Jack, a former federal MP, the weekend before last. The title, A Name To Look Out For Rather Than Recall, spoke volumes.

Ramsey suggested that old man Birney was known to nudge the
turps. Similar claims have been made about Matt – that he sits at
the Subiaco pub for too long. Gossip like this could hurt him in
the polls.

Someone who’s been tipped as a Liberal leader for a long time should
have known better. Birney should have taken steps earlier, as
talk about boozing is as fatal to would-be premiers as infrastructure
promises that would do the Citizens Electoral Councils proud and
policies that don’t add up.

Birney is from Kalgoorlie – an area where Crikey’s very own Noel
Crichton-Browne still has friends. While not all the locals are
hard right-wingers, they tend to take pretty robust view of trendy city
types. NCB will probably be just one of many influences – but all
of them no-nonsense.

The new leader’s first test will probably come when parliament resumes
and the issue of Western Australia’s disgracefully weighted electoral
system and one vote, one value, appears on the agenda. That’s
rather complicated. Let’s see who ends up on top today and return
to that issue a little later.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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