ACT election: Gary Kent calls for Vicki Dunne, others to be ‘pensioned off’

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The Canberra Liberals will again be in Opposition when the new assembly is formed, after falling short at Saturday’s election. It is still unclear if the Liberal party will secure 11 or 12 seats when counting is done, as one seat remains in doubt in Brindabella.

But with almost 85 per cent of the vote counted, the party has seen a 2.3 per cent swing against it.

Mr Kent, who resigned as Canberra Liberals president under acrimonious circumstances in 2013 and is chair of the Inner South Canberra Community Council. Canberra’s Adam Shirley that several Liberal MLAs did not perform well enough.

He said Ms Dunne’s failure to pull more votes on Saturday was one of the reasons Labor would win three seats in the electorate of Ginninderra.

“Some of the candidates are ineffectual. They should have been pensioned off … I’m talking about people like Vicki Dunne, yes,” he said.

“Vicki’s been around for a long time, to be pulling half a quota.”

Some in party ‘too hard right’ for ACT

When asked why he thought Ms Dunne and other MLAs had underperformed, Mr Kent said “they’re simply not appealing”.

Mr Kent said some of the current Liberal MLAs presented as “too hard right”. In 2014, ACT Liberal MLAs Giulia Jones and Vicki Dunne travelled to Europe on a study tour, to help inform the party’s policy making around prostitution law reform.

Mr Kent used this as an example of how the Canberra Liberals had become out of touch with ordinary voters.

“Vicki was one of those that went overseas on the issue of prostitution,” he said.

“I think that sends a very bad message.”

Mr Kent also levelled criticism at the internal workings of the party, saying they were “in a terrible state”.

“There’s a lot of internal issues … there is no full time professional officer, there is a lack of direction,” he said.

“The party machine is simply not relevant … it should be encouraging the MLAs to develop policies and helping them. And that doesn’t happen.”

Campaign perceived as too negative

Mr Kent said Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson and his deputy Alistair Coe had worked “incredibly hard” in the lead up to the election.

But he said negative campaigning around light rail and rates increases had failed to gain traction with the voters.

“I think that a lot of it comes down to a perception that the Liberals are too negative,” he said.

“Instead of having a positive agenda, our policy decisions were based on, ‘well Labor’s going to do that, therefore we’ll do something else’ … they [the voters] didn’t think that the Liberals had a positive agenda for Canberra.”

When questioned on whether Alistair Coe could one day become leader of Canberra Liberals, Mr Kent said it was possible.

“I believe he can do that — but I don’t believe that either Jeremy or Alistair convinced anyone this time.”

When questioned on whether Mr Hanson should stand down following Saturday’s poor election result, Mr Kent refused to be drawn further.

“That’s a matter for the parliamentary party,” he said.

Mr Kent said he understood his comments would raise eyebrows within the party, but that “this is the time to call it like it is — we have four years to get it right”.

The Canberra Liberals were contacted for comment and a spokeswoman said Mr Hanson was unavailable.

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