The Liberal power struggle in Victoria continues to be of interest to onlookers, with today’s developments that former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has told Victorian party president Michael Kroger that he has alienated the business community and shouldn’t contest next month’s election for president against former minister Peter Reith. Yesterday The Age revealed members of the Victorian parliamentary team had been doing their own fundraising, with an account quarantined from the main party’s account.

It was a big story, especially at the Brighton Cafe Florentine, a tipster tells us. “A favourite meeting place of the Brighton Libs,” we are told, played host to a meeting between challenger Reith and soon-to-be Brighton MP James Newbury, who was preselected to run for the safe seat at a byelection caused by the retirement of Louise Asher. We hear a stalwart of the Brighton Liberals as well as Reith and Newbury shared a table around lunchtime and our tipster reveals:

“Not sure that James and Reith knew each other because there seemed to be an exchange of phone numbers. Reith ducked out to take one call which looked pretty intense. When he went back in to the restaurant they were all looking at the Age’s front page. Obviously the Brighton libs have some sway in the machinations of the Victorian Liberal Party.”

Newbury tells us meeting Reith was no big deal — he’s sat at the same table with Michael Kroger in the last few days as well.

Peter Fray

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