Libby Mettam confident she can remove powerbroker Nick Goiran from parliamentary secretary role
New WA Liberal leader Libby Mettam says she is confident she can force the influence of influential powerbroker Nick Goiran out of a key parliamentary role in what will be a critical test of her leadership.
Key points: Ms Mettam wants to remove Nick Goiran as WA Liberals’ parliamentary secretary. The issue could be put to a vote on Thursday. This is an early test of Ms Mettam’s leadership
Ms Mettam believes she has the numbers in the party room to begin tackling the influence of a factional group known as ‘The Clan’ by removing Mr Goiran as party secretary.
But the McGowan government has slammed Ms Mettam’s efforts to curb factional power as half-hearted as she allows a key member of The Clan, Upper House MP Peter Collier, to remain in the shadow cabinet after he belatedly apologized for the helm of misogynistic texts.
The leader of the upper house, Sue Ellery, m. Mettam rejected the claim that she had drawn a “line in the sand” for the party immediately after becoming leader on Monday.
“It’s a very shaky line in the sand,” Ms Ellery said.
“It’s half a line in the sand if it only applies to one of the people in the shadow cabinet described, in really scathing terms, by a report commissioned by the Liberal Party itself.”
On her first day as leader, Libby Mettam declared her intention to reduce factional influence within the WA Liberals. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)
That internal party report, released after the Liberals’ disastrous 2021 election result, found that the “corrosive impact of factionalism” continues to plague the Liberal party.
Ms Mettam vowed that the internal dysfunction that turned off voters at recent state and federal elections would not be part of her leadership.
No apology from Goiran
As part of that, Ms Mettam asked Mr Goiran to apologize for his role in ‘The Clan’, including leaked messages from a WhatsApp group where he bragged about branch stacking.
But she said Mr Goiran refused to do so.
“I also requested an apology from Nick Goiran, it is disappointing that no apology came,” she said.
Nick Goiran has refused to apologize for his role in a factional group known as ‘The Clan’. (ABC News: Keane Bourke)
“It is disappointing that I had to take the unprecedented step of stripping Nick Goiran of his portfolios, or intention, or illustrate my intention to strip.”
Mr Goiran denied the continued existence of The Clan but would not say such a group never existed.
“Whatever people think that group was, it certainly doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.
He was pragmatic about being stripped of his shadow portfolios, including that of attorney-general, and said if Ms Mettam had to do it to neutralize the issue of factions and better hold the McGowan government to account, it was a good thing.
“If this political strategy that’s playing out at the moment enables Libby and others to really push as hard in parliament over the course of this year, that’s great, you know, I’ll do what I can from the backbench ,” Mr Goiran said.
Mr Collier did apologize yesterday for his comments in the WhatsApp group messages, which included describing one Liberal woman as a “prize bitch” who everyone hated and another as a “poisonous cow”.
Parliamentary secretary rolls in doubt
Ms Mettam now believes she will have the votes to remove Mr Goiran as the party’s parliamentary secretary at the party chamber meeting on Thursday, after her initial attempt was defeated by the majority of Liberal MPs on Monday.
“It would be disappointing if the party room had to go to a vote, but I would be, I’m confident that I would have the support of the party room on that vote,” she said.
Ms. Ellery suggested that Ms. Mettam make an agreement with Mr. Collier agreed to remain in the shadow cabinet if he apologises, 18 months after the WhatsApp messages became public.
Sue Ellery mocked new Liberal leader Libby Mettam’s “line in the sand”. (ABC News: James Carmody)
She said it was not good enough and Ms Mettam should demand that Mr. Collier assures “he does not participate in that kind of branch behavior, the stacking of branches, the unstacking of branches, the control of the delegates to state conference, which has thwarted every attempt at reform”.
“Is he still engaged in the kind of activity that the report describes as unethical, and underhanded and caustic?” Ms Ellery asked.
“Did he stop it? What steps is he personally taking to ensure that all those people he recruited into the party as his kind of lieutenants, if you will, stop them from doing that?”
Mr Collier has been contacted for comment.
In a statement yesterday, he apologized to Ms Mettam, Liberal Party members and the people of WA “for the inappropriate language I have used on several occasions”.