Churchlands MLA remains tight-lipped on leadership speculation following Liberal’s State Election disaster

Churchlands MLA Sean L’Estrange on election night. Picture Jon Bassett.
Churchlands MLA Sean L’Estrange on election night. Picture Jon Bassett.

CHURCHLANDS MLA Sean L’Estrange has left open speculation he could contend for the Liberal Party leadership after the devastating win by Labor at the State Election on Saturday.

“I think it’s too early to talk about that, as there’s still votes to be counted and seats to be worked through,” Mr L’Estrange told Stirling Times .

The outgoing mines, petroleum, finance and small business minister shares an electorate boundary with party heir-apparent and deputy leader Liza Harvey.

Mr L’Estrange said he would “not speculate or comment” on being Ms Harvey’s deputy because he was supporting colleagues who had lost their jobs or still undecided seats.

Among the members whose seats are still undecided is mooted leadership aspirant and Jandakot MLA Joe Francis.

“Right now, we’re focussing on the scrutineering of ballots, including getting Joe Francis past the line,” Mr L’Estrange said when asked if there was a date for a party room meeting to decide leadership positions.

With 72 per cent of the vote counted in Churchlands to this morning, Mr L’Estrange had 64.5 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.

Mr L’Estrange has a background in economics, teaching and the army with which he could tackle Mr McGowan’s dominant MPs.

However, on election night Mr L’Estrange was coy when asked about other shadow areas or interests beyond his former portfolios.

“My focus remains in that area, until such time as we get together, and we review how things played out,” he said.

He said the party would wait until vote counting was completed before deciding shadow positions.

After the Liberal’s loss in 2001, former premier Richard Court failed in his attempt to parachute Curtin MHR Julie Bishop into the leadership, which eventually went to Cottesloe MLA Colin Barnett who has flagged Ms Harvey as his replacement

Curtin University politics professor John Phillimore said MPs would at least like to know the Jandakot outcome before considering the leadership.

However, results for Upper House seats may not be known for a fortnight.

“They wouldn’t want to wait that long, but I would expect that they would want to wait for the Lower House Assembly seats to be decided before they have a vote,” Prof Phillimore said.