South Australia’s Liberal leader Rob Kerin is looking safer
this morning. His comedy relief challenger, Martin Hamilton-Smith, who threw
his hat into the ring, but forgot to count any numbers, has withdrawn.

Victoria’s
Robert Doyle has reason to be uneasy, and the poo might just be about to hit
the fan in the ACT Assembly as the Liberal Party’s civil war there moves up a
notch, with embattled leader Brendan Smyth opting for a risky pre-emptive strike
in sacking one of his opponents, Opposition Whip Vicki Dunne.

He told
Dunne yesterday he would also replace her as manager of Opposition business but
she would retain her shadow education portfolio. He has also barred her from
the Party room for a month.

The
pretext for the move was a charge of disloyalty against Dunne, whom Smyth
accused of leaking information she obtained under FOI on the police Tazer stun
guns to the Council for Civil Liberties, for which one of her part-time
staffers works.

But
nobody in the know is buying this. The strike was timed to cut out Smyth’s
potential challenger, Richard Mulcahy, who is away overseas and returns next
week. This might just be the trigger for a possible challenge.

Smyth is
using the posts he took from Dunne to try to bolster his support among the
waverers. But even his supporters fear he lacks gravitas and is not taken very
seriously.

Long-time
watchers of the tiny 17-member parliament say it’s the most exciting time there
since a former Liberal staffer accidentally set off the duress button while
cavorting on his boss’ desk with a female Young Liberal. An attendant who responded
to the alarm reported some hurried adjustment of clothing taking place as he
walked in.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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