Elizabeth Lee doesn’t want it. Mark Parton isn’t about to put his hand up. That doesn’t leave too many left to topple Alistair Coe as Opposition Leader, unless Jeremy Hanson wants another crack at the top job.
Although Hanson as leader would defeat the point of any party putsch if the justification for change was to give the Canberra Liberals more moderate appeal.
After a weekend of media speculation based on unknown Liberal sources saying MLAs were seriously canvassing such a change ahead of the last sitting period of the year, Elizabeth Lee tweeted that she was absolutely committed to bringing about a Canberra Liberals government in 2020 under the leadership of Alistair Coe and his deputy Nicole Lawder.
Ms Lee, who has recently had a baby, was considered to be the best bet to replace Mr Coe and, together with Guilia Jones, provide a more appealing team (as in less right-wing), to go into the October election.
The likeable former radio personality Mr Parton has previously been considered a potential leader but sources say he doesn’t want the job and may not be committed long term to the Assembly anyway.
Some say Andrew Wall does have ambitions but there is simply not enough support in the party room. Others such as Candice Burch have only been in the place five minutes.
Mr Coe wasn’t talking on Monday and it was left to party power broker Senator Zed Seselja to back the current leader and Ms Lawder to keep the team on message.
Senator Seselja said Mr Coe was doing a great job and on track for victory in October.
“What I’m hearing is that Alistair’s holding the government to account very strongly, particularly on higher taxes, failure to invest properly in health, and the failures around public transport and school buses,” he said.
Ms Lawder said the team was focused on winning government in 2020 and with Mr Coe all the way.
But she made the point that the party room made decisions, not just Mr Coe, when asked about whether he was too conservative for Canberra.
“Leading up to the election we’ll be making sure we’re representing the views of all Canberrans,” she said. “This is something that will make us stronger and more committed as we move closer to the October election.”
On that issue of Mr Coe being too conservative, Senator Seselja said that was a critique mostly made by Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
”There are a lot of Canberrans who may share Andrew Barr’s social views on a number of things but are not happy with his performance as Chief Minister,” he said.
And would Ms Lee make a good leader?
“I think we’ve got a number in that party room who do an outstanding job, we’re very blessed to have a great team,” he said.
Senator Seselja dismissed the speculation as having no substance but that it was not uncommon for oppositions to endure this sort of thing.
Indeed, the source of it remains a mystery and it may be more mischief than Machiavelli.
If anything is going to happen it should be in the next couple of weeks with the Assembly sitting, because it is unlikely any change would be considered next year.
But a clue to the party’s future might be seen in the results of preselections being conducted this week. That might provide the new blood some are wanting.