The permanently dysfunctional ACT Liberals (yes, they really exist) this week lost an aspiring leader, dumped an incumbent leader and chose a new leader – the party’s third in three years.

Zdenko Seselja (known as Zed) is the new leader – a first-termer who at 30 becomes probably the youngest major party leader in Australia’s history. His succession follows the “resignation” of Bill Stefaniak, and comes just days after the Liberals expelled former deputy leader, Richard Mulcahy, from the parliamentary party; he later resigned from the Liberal Party altogether.

The party now has just six members in the 17-member chamber, and Mulcahy, who is embroiled in a long-running dispute over the management of his former employer, the Australian Hotels’ Association, will sit as an independent.

Of the six members remaining, four have now been either leader or deputy leader, with former leader and also a former deputy leader, Brendan Smyth, back as deputy.

Whether it all matters is anybody’s guess. Two things have to happen for the Liberals to get even a sniff of government in this predominantly Labor town – Labor stuffing up badly and the Liberals moving to the left with a charismatic leader. Neither looks likely.

The party remains deeply divided at both parliamentary and administrative levels, and Mulcahy’s presence on the cross benches will no doubt ensure that all this is brought to the fore. But there are signs that the public is well and truly sick of it all. A letter to the Canberra Times last week suggested the need for a new party to be formed to take the role of opposition – an idea that has a better chance of working in Canberra than anywhere else.

In the early years of self-government – which Canberra did not want – back in 1989, grassroots community activity saw the spontaneous appearance of the Residents’ Rally and also the talented independent Michael Moore, who taunted the then Labor government by introducing inconvenient legislation drawn from Labor’s platform, and watching the ALP squirm as it opposed it.

With the Hare-Clark proportional representation system in place in the Territory, and the Rudd government unlikely to oppose an increase in the size of the assembly, a new community-based party would be in with a real chance.