Liberal members in Hilton ballroom watch Chris Minns, Labor take resounding win

Liberal members in Hilton ballroom watch Chris Minns, Labor take resounding win

A now-former Liberal minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Perrottet had been “hindered in his efforts to lead” by a party structure that fought against him.

“A visionary leader lost to a leader seemingly out of ideas. And the question is: how did it happen? The Liberal Party must judge its own guilt,” they said.

“The teals have tied us down in the east of the city, which has distracted us from dealing with One Nation in the west of the city. The irony is that breeding One Nation helped support Labor to win the election in the end.”

Another outgoing minister, who also asked not to be named, said the election result was proof that the party’s organizational wing had failed to learn lessons from the federal campaign.

“We made a call at our state conference in August 2022 where we said we would pre-select people by the end of the year,” they said.

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“There we were in January, still with critical seats sitting empty that ended up being filled with dud candidates.

“Clearly lesson not learned. I think we need to completely overhaul the pre-screening process and introduce a trigger clause that says it has to happen by a certain time.”

They added that losses in seats such as Penrith and East Hills with long-standing MPs reflected the “it’s about time” factor and local issues.

“Penrith was always going to be tough. The moment Stuart got involved with John Bariloro – that was it,” they said.

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A senior party source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, added that the result was “not a rejection of Dom, or about how charismatic Chris Minns was”.

Rather, they said, it was a classic example that “if you don’t pick candidates who are up to it, you lose”.

Treasurer Matt Kean, who retained his seat of Hornsby, said “the 12-year factor” had finally cost the government, while admitting the campaign had been weighed down by internal distractions from its message.

Kean would be the front-runner to take leadership of the party, but Liberal insiders said he was likely to face challenges from Alister Henskens and Mark Speakman. Environment Minister and Manly MP James Griffin was tipped by some Liberals on Saturday as a possible “dark horse” in a leadership tilt.

A shell-shocked outgoing health minister and Liberal elder Brad Hazzard said it was the biggest disappointment that his seat of Wakehurst had been wrested from the Liberals by independent candidate Michael Regan after more than three decades under his watch.

“It would appear that certain factors were obviously beyond local control,” Hazzard said.

“I honestly don’t know what they are. It strikes me that everything that the Liberal and National Government has done has been bankrolled by the community.”

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Speaking on Nine’s election night TV panel, former prime minister Baird said Perrottet was crippled by party office failures and self-inflicted scandals.

“You can’t win respect in communities unless you get good candidates in the field, unless you think and speak about the community rather than yourself,” Baird said.

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can subscribe to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

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