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ACT election 2020: Coe’s leadership in doubt after heavy ACT election defeat | The Canberra Times


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Speculation is mounting that Alistair Coe’s four-year reign as Canberra Liberals leader will end in the wake of the party’s shock heavy ACT election defeat. Mr Coe has yet to declare if he will seek to retain the party leadership following Saturday’s loss, which will consign the Liberals to another four years in opposition. The Opposition Leader did not front the media on Sunday or respond to calls and texts from The Canberra Times. His declaration on Saturday night that holding the leadership of the Canberra Liberals had been the greatest honour of his life sparked immediate speculation about his future. As the dust settled on the result, an expectation has emerged that Liberals education spokeswoman Elizabeth Lee and former leader Jeremy Hanson will challenge for the leadership, although neither has publicly declared an intention to run. Mr Hanson declined to comment on Sunday. Ms Lee said via text message that there “wasn’t much to say with seats still left to be determined”. The party is searching for answers after Canberrans spurned Mr Coe in favour of another four years of Labor-Greens government. The result has cost three Liberal MLAs their seats: James Milligan in Yerrabi, Candice Burch in Kurrajong and Andrew Wall in Brindabella. All three parliamentarians are from the Liberals’ conservative wing, with their defeats poised to shift the balance of power within a diminished party room. Mr Hanson and Ms Lee are from the moderate flank of the party. Party convention dictates that the leadership and deputy leadership positions are spilled in the wake of an election defeat. A party room vote won’t be held until the results in all seats are finalised. Some Liberals are confident Mr Coe will re-contest the leadership, while others believe he won’t put his hand up again. The post-mortem into the campaign started soon after the first batch of results came through on Saturday night. Liberals are blaming the party’s sixth-consecutive defeat on the stunt-filled campaign, and Mr Coe’s failure to present himself as a credible alternative to Mr Barr. While the COVID-19 pandemic loomed large over the campaign, many saw the election as a referendum on Mr Coe’s leadership. Brindabella MLA Mark Parton, who managed to strengthen his personal vote despite a major swing away from the Liberals in the southern suburbs electorate, said the result showed the campaign had been a failure. “We went to the election with a unified strategy,” he said. “We were unified behind the leadership and the strategy, and it very clearly didn’t work. We have to pick through that and try and understand why.” After topping the Liberals’ ticket in Brindabella, the former breakfast radio host has been suggested in some circles as a possible leadership contender. READ MORE: Mr Parton was coy when asked about his leadership aspirations. “We are a very, even despite what was a very terrible night for us, a very, very close team,” he said. “We will have those discussions when we come together, when we know who is in the tent. “I’m just here to serve the people who elected me, and then the party in whatever capacity I can.”

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