Nahan quits as WA Opposition leader

Mike Nahan.
Mike Nahan.

MIKE Nahan has bowed to internal party pressures and 24 hours of public speculation by announcing tonight he will quit as leader of the State Opposition.

In a written statement, Dr Nahan confirmed there would be a special party room meeting called to allow for a leadership ballot.

Deputy leader Liza Harvey is the favourite to replace Dr Nahan, with Sean L’Estrange also believed to be weighing up a tilt.

“It was always my intention to rebuild the Liberal team, to give all leadership aspirants the opportunity to prove themselves and to then reconsider my position half way through this term, with the intention of handing hand over to a new team,” Dr Nahan said.

“I had discussed the timing of such an announcement with some colleagues, and while it was anticipated the discussions would be kept confidential, the airing of leadership discussions in the media has prompted me to call for the issue to be resolved by the end of this week.”

The announcement comes just hours after Dr Nahan rejected claims he had drafted a resignation letter.

In a statement on Wednesday night, Dr Nahan said it was always his plan to hand over the Liberal leadership before the 2021 state election.

Deputy leader Liza Harvey is the favourite to replace Dr Nahan.

Earlier on Wednesday, Dr Nahan rejected claims he had recently drafted a letter of resignation and struck a deal to hand over the reins to his deputy Liza Harvey.

He said the “airing of leadership discussions in the media” prompted his resignation, and called for the issue of the party’s leadership to be resolved by the end of the week.

Dr Nahan has seen the Liberals through opposition since the party’s crushing defeat at the 2017 state election, where it was reduced to just 13 seats in the 59-seat lower house.

Premier Mark McGowan earlier acknowledged Dr Nahan took on the difficult task of being opposition leader after Labor won the 2017 election when no one else wanted the job.

“He had the courage to step up when none of his colleagues would,” Mr McGowan said.

“While he has his flaws, like all of us, at least he had the strength to do it unlike the other contenders.”

Dr Nahan said he would stay on as the member for Riverton and called for a special party room meeting to hold a ballot for the leadership.