UPDATED 1:45 pm Elizabeth Lee has been elected leader of the Canberra Liberals, taking over from Alistair Coe who did not re-contest the ballot after the party’s defeat at the election 10 days ago.
Giulia Jones has been elected deputy leader, replacing Nicole Lawder.
Only the former opposition leader Jeremy Hanson, who led the party at the 2016 election, ran against Ms Lee.
Region Media understands Ms Jones was elected unopposed as deputy.
Ms Lee said her leadership would be a “fresh new beginning for the Canberra Liberals and the ACT community”.
“Our party room … shows the diversity of our broader community. We have a cultural diversity that is missing, not just in the ACT, but Australian politics,” Ms Lee said.
“Obviously my gender is something I cannot change, but it gives me great pleasure standing here with my deputy in a historic moment for the Canberra Liberals. I am very proud that I can play my role as not only the first female leader of the Canberra Liberals in two decades but of course, the first female leader of Asian background.
“That is not insignificant.”
The Liberals are currently conducting a review into the election after the party suffered a swing against them of 2.9 per cent across the board, with the swing widening to 7.2 per cent in Murrumbidgee. The party lost ground across every electorate except for Yerrabi – Mr Coe’s electorate – where there was a 4.8 per cent swing to the party.
They also lost two seats – Candice Burch in Kurrajong and Andrew Wall in Brindabella.
“Canberra spoke very loudly and we must listen. There are certain somethings that must change. We want to represent all of Canberra … and that is my job,” Ms Lee said.
There was no indication from the new leader about whether the party’s director and campaign manager, Josh Manuatu, would remain in his role.
“That is something that has not been discussed as yet,” she said.
The move was reminiscent of the 2016 election when Mr Coe took over the leadership from Mr Hanson following the 2016 election defeat.
The Liberals have been criticised – including by former party leaders – for being too conservative for the Canberra electorate.
Mr Coe fronted the Canberra media last Tuesday (20 October), three days after the election to defend the party’s performance.
“As leader of the Liberals I take full responsibility for the result on Saturday night,” Mr Coe said at the time.
“It is tough. It is very tough. I and many other people in Canberra were devastated by the results. It is clear that with one or two minor parties, we have been disproportionately hit hard.
“Let’s put this into perspective: it is a 3 per cent swing at this stage and I have no doubt that this will narrow considerably in the coming days.”