The Peter Costello/Michael Kroger forces tightened their control over the organisational side of the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party over the weekend. Costello/Kroger ally Jason Aldworth was elected unopposed as senior vice-president at the meeting of the Liberal State Council.

Now there’s increasing focus on changes to the parliamentary team. Member for Scoresby Kim Wells is already contemplating his future as his pre-selection looms. And the Victorian Liberal Party is abuzz with speculation that upper house veteran MPs Ron Bowden and Chris Strong are being encouraged to, er, consider their options.

Neither has made much of a mark since their election in the Kennett landslide of 1992. They are losing local support and will not gain any fillip from delegates drawn from the broader Liberal state council come preselection time. Council is made up from a hungry lot of rank and file Libs from across the state, not local delegates that MPs can easily control. The new upper house system in Victoria means that preselections for the Council will be even more volatile.

Neither Bowden nor Strong looks likely to be able to win more than a small handful of votes come preselection time. How much more of a changing of the guard will we see in the Victorian Liberals – and what will it mean for leader Robert Doyle?

Peter Fray

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