Mike Nahan’s resignation as Opposition Leader leaves Liza Harvey in line for WA Liberals’ top job


June 13, 2019 07:35:00

West Australian Liberal MPs are frantically discussing the party’s future after Mike Nahan ended a lengthy period of speculation by announcing his resignation last night.

Liberals will meet this morning to determine who the party’s next leader will be, with Dr Nahan only having informed colleagues after 6:00pm yesterday of his intention to quit.

Deputy leader Liza Harvey is increasingly expected to be elected to the top job unopposed, but others have also had aspirations in the past and will be assessing their support ahead of the partyroom meeting.

Here is a look at all of the possible leadership aspirants in the opposition ranks and those who are likely to play a key role for the Liberal Party between now and the 2021 state election.

Liza Harvey

The Scarborough MP has been touted as a future Liberal leader for years, a view that was cemented after her elevation to deputy premier in the final year of the Barnett government.

She looked to be the most likely successor to Colin Barnett had the Liberal-National government been re-elected in 2017.

But she chose not to nominate for the leadership after that election defeat, allowing Dr Nahan to take the job unopposed.

Mrs Harvey served as police minister in the former government, but switched portfolios in opposition to focus on transport.

In an interview with the ABC to mark his resignation, Dr Nahan hailed Mrs Harvey as “excellent”, but the outgoing leader did not say who he would be supporting in the leadership ballot.

Dean Nalder

Mr Nalder’s leadership ambitions were an open secret during the years of the Barnett government, until he quit cabinet in a failed bid to depose the then-premier.

But, like Mrs Harvey, the Bateman MP chose not to contest the leadership after the election defeat two years ago — instead taking on the role of Shadow Treasurer.

Prior to that Mr Nalder served as transport minister from 2014 to 2016, but faced heavy controversy early in that tenure over conflict of interest claims regarding the mix between his investment in a private company and his ministerial responsibilities.

Mr Nalder was raised in the Wheatbelt, going on to play in the WA Football League and serving as an executive with ANZ Bank.

Sean L’Estrange

Critics of Dr Nahan regularly cited Mr L’Estrange as a possible leader during the Liberals’ recent years in opposition.

But the Churchlands MP holds a much lower profile than Mrs Harvey and Mr Nalder, having only served as a frontbencher in Parliament for three years.

He was mines and petroleum minister in the Barnett government’s last year, holding the same portfolio in opposition initially, until he was elevated to take on responsibility for health.

Prior to entering politics, Mr L’Estrange served in Afghanistan with the Australian Army and also worked as a teacher.

Like Mr Nalder, Mr L’Estrange could be a contender for the deputy leadership, assuming Mrs Harvey takes the top job.

Any others in the mix?

While Mrs Harvey is the strong favourite to be the next opposition leader, there are others in the party assessing their options ahead of the partyroom meeting.

First-term MP David Honey, who replaced Mr Barnett in the safe seat of Cottesloe last year, is also known to hold ambitions for higher office and has previously been floated as a leadership possibility.

But that now appears to be a long shot, with a tilt at the deputy position for Dr Honey now considered more likely.

Bill Marmion and Tony Krsticevic are also being floated as potential deputy leadership options.









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