UPDATED 5 pm: Chief Minister Andrew Barr has suggested a breakdown in the relationship between moderate Leader of the Opposition Elizabeth Lee and conservative Deputy Opposition Leader Giulia Jones could be behind the latter’s resignation from her position today.
Mr Barr made these comments before Mrs Jones released her official statement in which she claimed the reason for her resignation from the deputy leadership was to spend more time with her family.
“There have been rumours of a degree of unhappiness between the leader and deputy leader for some time,” Mr Barr said.
“They do come from different wings of the party. It’s clear the conservatives are unhappy and there has been, at the very least, a significant relationship breakdown.”
In a statement issued in response to Mrs Jones’ resignation, Ms Lee applauded her for making the decision she did.
The Chief Minister said while these matters are ultimately for the Canberra Liberals, he did not believe it was a good sign if the conservative faction could not be happy with a moderate leader.
“The Canberra Liberals have always been a very conservative party.” Mr Barr said. He also suggested Mrs Jones could be making a tilt at the leadership, but some sources have disputed this.
“Once again, the Canberra Liberals are a bitterly divided party. It’s an old adage in politics that if you can’t govern your party, you can’t govern your jurisdiction.”
A party room meeting is scheduled for tomorrow.
It’s still unclear if Mrs Jones will retain her portfolios or if there will be a reshuffle. Likewise, it’s unknown who will contest the position.
Mrs Jones has not responded to Region Media‘s request for an interview.
11:30 am: Giulia Jones has stepped down from her position as Deputy Leader of the ACT Opposition.
In a statement, Mrs Jones said she had keenly felt the ongoing pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and had taken the decision after “considerable reflection”.
She cited a desire to provide more support to her large family.
“I am most grateful for the care and commitment of my husband towards our family and feel that it is important to do more at home with them,” Mrs Jones said.
Mrs Jones and her husband Bernard have six children.
Mrs Jones will remain in the Canberra Liberals. She said she is “devoted to my electorate and want to ensure that the electors of Murrumbidgee continue to receive the strongest representation”.
She thanked Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee for how considerate she had been of her decision.
“I look forward to working with her, whoever is chosen as the new Deputy Leader, and the rest of the Liberal Assembly team as we continue to hold the Barr Government to account,” Mrs Jones said.
Mrs Jones and Ms Lee formed the first all-female leadership team in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
Ms Lee said the pair had achieved some great things together.
“I thank Mrs Jones for her service to our party as Deputy Leader and applaud her courage in coming to this difficult decision.”
Mrs Jones had held the position of Deputy Opposition Leader since October 2020 when she was elected to the post unopposed, replacing Nicole Lawder.
She is Opposition spokesperson for Health, Mental Health and Well-being and Multicultural Affairs.
It’s not yet known who will replace her as Deputy.
More to come.