Liberal leadership in doubt as Harvey, Francis circle

Liza Harvey. Picture: Bryce Luff
Liza Harvey. Picture: Bryce Luff

WESTERN Australia’s Liberal MPs are considering a new leader to replace Colin Barnett after the weekend’s crushing election defeat.

Mr Barnett’s deputy Liza Harvey is still viewed as the likely successor, but former corrective services minister Joe Francis also wants the job.

However, Mr Francis’ electorate of Jandakot is one of the seats still in doubt.

The Liberals will have around 13 MPs in the new parliament, and face a tough task making a dent on the new Labor government of Mark McGowan over the next four years.

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Insiders believe Mr Francis, a tattooed former submariner, can be the “attack dog” to take on new premier Mark McGowan, while Ms Harvey is not seen as feisty enough.

However, she’s been widely perceived as Mr Barnett’s heir apparent, and is expected to stand.

The West Australian says former mines and small business minister Sean L’Estrange has also been floated as a candidate.

Ex-bank executive and transport minister Dean Nalder has dropped his leadership ambitions, at least for now.

Mr Barnett has said he’ll sit on the opposition back bench, but there’s speculation the former premier will retire from politics.

One of the confirmed Liberal MPs, Peter Katsambanis, said on Monday he would not be putting his hand up for the job.

He also denied he’d been drunk when he left a 3am voice message on the mobile of Rob Johnson, who quit the party after a falling out with Mr Barnett.

“The motivation was that Rob Johnson didn’t have the good grace to call and concede,” he told 6PR on Monday.