Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne was stripped of her portfolios yesterday after Tuesday’s altercation with Steve Pratt.
The Canberra Times reports Mrs Dunne was called into leader Brendan Smyth’s office yesterday afternoon and told she would no longer be the Liberals’ spokeswoman for education, environment, water, heritage and family services.
Mr Pratt reportedly came away with only a reprimand.
The issue once again brings to light the leadership battle that seems to be bubbling under the surface of the local Liberals’ every move these days. For those who do not remember, Mrs Dunne and Zed Seselja are supporters of potential challenger Richard Mulcahy while Mr Smyth has the other three party members behind him. It was thought for a while that Mr Pratt was a swinging voter, but this latest scuffle seems to eliminate that possibility all together.
Mrs Dunne’s demotion does not bode well for the prospects of a Mulcahy challenge and it appears Mr Smyth is trying to bring the dissenters into line.
UPDATED: The following snippet was in today’s Crikey:
ACT Liberals plotting: Was last week’s corridor contretemps a symptom of deeper divisions in the ACT Liberals? Three of the seven Liberals in the Territory Assembly have reportedly offered the leadership to current deputy Bill Stefaniak, the deal being that Richard Mulcahy, currently jostling top dog Brendan Smyth, becomes deputy.
Mrs Dunne said she had had a discussion with Mr Smyth earlier in the week about the leadership issues and that she told him she had lost confidence in the present leadership but she wanted to rebuild that. The Oppositions leader asked her to produce a letter of loyalty, which she gave him yesterday just before she was dumped from the front bench.
In October last year Mrs Dunne was sacked from the position of Opposition Whip after allegations she leaked a confidential document.
Yesterday Mr Smyth reportedly again accused her of leaking information, this time about the corridor fight earlier in the week and demanded an apology. Mrs Dunne denied the allegation and said she could not apologise for something she had not done.
She said she felt she had been “hung out to dry”.
“I have been reprimanded, but the person who did the shouting and the swearing got off unscathed.”