It wont get up: Bullish OBrien ready to face his challengers – The Age

Posted: March 21, 2021 at 4:55 pm

The partys 31 state MPs will need to vote on Tuesday for the spill motion, which determines whether to declare the leadership position vacant.

If this vote is successful, Mr OBrien may still recontest for his position against any challenger, though his position would be massively weakened in what would be, in effect, a vote of no confidence.

The challengers believe the current leader has about nine rusted-on voters, meaning they expect more than 20 MPs will either oppose Mr OBriens leadership or are persuadable. Those deemed to be in Mr OBriens camp include deputy leader Cindy McLeish, Bernie Finn, Gordon Rich-Phillips, Gary Blackwood, Kim Wells and David Morris.

Mr OBriens backers are generally longer-serving MPs from the faction of the party aligned to state president Robert Clark, while his opponents tend to be aligned with federal MPs, including minister Michael Sukkar and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who oppose Mr Clark.

Mr Battin who holds the shadow portfolios of youth justice, crime prevention, victims support, roads and road safety is expected by his supporters to be more popular among suburban and multicultural voters than Mr OBrien, who colleagues believe has not communicated effectively with these groups.

Mr Battin, who gained prominence campaigning against the Andrews governments reforms to the Country Fire Authority, is one of the partys only MPs who represents an outer-suburban seat Gembrook which he won from Labor in 2010.

The Age revealed last month that Mr OBrien would probably face a leadership challenge at one of the three sittings weeks before the May budget.

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Mr OBrien took over the party at one of its lowest points after the 2018 election thumping. He has faced internal criticism for his approach during the pandemic, through which he has struggled to take advantage of the prolonged lockdown caused by COVID-19 seeping from quarantine hotels.

An Ipsos poll published by The Age in October showed 15 per cent of Victorians surveyed approved of the Opposition Leaders performance during the pandemic. The finding compared with a 52 per cent approval rating for Mr Andrews.

Some Victorian Liberals have been worried that the result of the election in Western Australia where a Labor premier who hogged the limelight during the pandemic reduced the Liberal Party to two seats could foreshadow a similar drubbing at the next election.

Former premier Jeff Kennett told The Age on Monday that the WA wipeout could be repeated in Victoria if the Liberal Party did not improve its performance and select better candidates. He said a leadership change might not occur until much closer to the November 2022 election.

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It wont get up: Bullish OBrien ready to face his challengers - The Age

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