Vic Liberal leadership contest down to two

December 01, 2022 05:43 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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A Victorian Liberal leadership contender has dropped out of the race, setting up a two-way battle between hopefuls Brad Battin and John Pesutto.

Polwarth MP Richard Riordan on Thursday withdrew his candidacy and threw his support behind Mr Battin to replace outgoing state party leader Matthew Guy after Saturday's crushing election defeat.

"The Liberal Party needs to appeal to our metropolitan growth areas and regional cities," Mr Riordan wrote on social media.

"Our leadership reset with Brad Battin, an experienced outer suburban member, will help drive this."

The Liberal party room is expected to meet next Thursday when Mr Battin, who comfortably won the seat of Berwick, is poised to face off with Mr Pesutto after the former shadow attorney-general reclaimed the seat of Hawthorn.

Five lower house seats still hang in the balance after the Greens candidate for Northcote, Campbell Gome, called Labor incumbent Kat Theophanous to concede on Thursday afternoon while trailing by 856 votes.

"The fact that the ABC still hasn't called this seat after five days shows just how close Northcote came to turning Green," Mr Gome tweeted.

The result means the Greens will only add the seat of Richmond to their three others in the lower house, in addition to likely another two upper house spots.

In race for the outer southeast Melbourne seat of Pakenham, Liberal candidate David Farrelly's lead has been whittled down to five over Labor's Emma Vulin.

The Liberals trail Labor in Bass and Hastings but their candidate Chris Crewther remains ahead of teal candidate Kate Lardner in the seat of Mornington by almost 400 votes.

Labor is on track to hold Preston on preferences, taking the party close to equalling the 55 seats it won in 2018.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to unveil a minor cabinet reshuffle after the new Labor caucus meets.

One ministry spot has been left open following the retirement of Western Victoria Region MP Jaala Pulford, while there is speculation Veterans Minister Shaun Leane might be moved out of cabinet.

Northern Metropolitan Region MP Enver Erdogan and St Albans MP Natalie Suleyman have been raised as replacements, while Lizzie Blandthorn could lose the planning portfolio over her lobbyist brother's ties to major construction firms.

Asked if Mr Erdogan and Ms Suleyman would be promoted to cabinet, Mr Andrews was tight-lipped on Thursday.

"Caucus will determine who comes into cabinet and I haven't yet set a time for a caucus meeting," he told reporters at the future site of the Metro Tunnel's Town Hall Station.

"That is the definition of jumping the gun."

Official results for close seats will not be finalised until preference distributions are carried out next week, potentially pushing back Labor's caucus meeting.

Final outcomes for upper house spots are expected to take even longer.


* John Pesutto

- Age: 52

- Seat: Hawthorn, 2014-2018 and 2022-

- Shadow minister appointments: attorney-general 

- Former roles: electorate officer for federal MP Russell Broadbent, lawyer, counsel to premier Denis Napthine, senior adviser to premier Ted Baillieu

- Education: Catholic Regional College Traralgon, University of Melbourne

- Family: wife, three daughters

* Brad Battin

- Age: 46

- Seat: Gembrook 2010-2022; Berwick 2022-

- Shadow minister appointments: police, emergency services, community safety and victim support, corrections 

* Parliamentary positions: secretary for the environment

* Committee memberships: deputy chair of Legislative Assembly Legal and Social Issues Committee

- Former roles: retail worker, police officer, prison officer, small business owner (Bakers Delight in Wheelers Hill)

- Education: Harkaway Primary School, Berwick College (left school at 15 to start working full time at McDonalds)

- Family: wife, two daughters


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