27 October 2020

UPDATED: Elizabeth Lee elected new Canberra Liberals leader

| Dominic Giannini
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Elizabeth Lee

Elizabeth Lee has been elected as the Canberra Liberals’ new leader. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

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.”

Elizabeth Lee and her deputy Giulia Jones fronted the media after the party room meeting this morning. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

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.

READ MORE Coe accepts responsibility but another election loss exposes deep party divisions

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.

Elizabeth Lee (left) and Giulia Jones exit the Assembly after the Liberal’s leadership spill. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

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.

READ ALSO How the party room battle defeated Liberals’ chances of winning an “it’s time” election

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.”

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Isn’t Giulia Jones from the conservative wing? She worked as a staffer for Tony Abbott and Sophie Mirabella.

Elizabeth Lee? A step in the right direction! Giulia ? You have got to be kidding me !

Thank god it’s not mark Parton, his a buffoon. No doubt he thought he was a shoe in but obviously those in his own party are sceptical of him

Finally, the ACT Libs take a step forward

Capital Retro3:54 pm 27 Oct 20

No matter how many steps forward they take, Labor/Greens will always be two or three steps ahead of them. Canberra with its huge public sector population will always give the aggregate vote to the left side.

Absolute nonsense CR.

Capital Retro3:57 pm 28 Oct 20

If my theory is nonsense JS, please then explain why Labor has been in continuous power in the ACT for almost 20 years as there are no outstanding individuals in that party either.

I think Elizabeth Lee is an excellent selection. She has been a prominent candidate in the Gungahin district and across Canberra for some years now. The same with Giulia Jones who also for some years has been an active candidate in the Canberra communities.

Solid choice with Elizabeth Lee – far less convinced by the choice of Guilia Jones as deputy, but this presents them with a chance to reset their policy agenda and find something more palatable with the ACT community.

I agree Guilia Jones is not an appropriate deputy, she doesn’t pay her fines for her reckless driving and has done nothing of significance in her lifetime in the assembly apart from showboating

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