After WA Opposition Leader Liza Harvey’s resignation four months out from the State Election, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Zak Kirkup is the favourite to take over the Liberal leadership.
WA’s youngest member of parliament at just 33-years-old, it’s understood Kirkup has the 12 votes and more required to take over from the outgoing Harvey and stymy fellow contender Dean Nalder’s hopes of acquiring the leadership.
NIT understands Kirkup has factional support from Liberal powerbrokers Peter Collier and Nick Goiran while Nalder holds support outside the Liberal Party from businessmen with Liberal interests.
A source from inside the Liberal Party who did not want to be named told NIT Nalder has no factional support.
“I think [Kirkup] has sufficient numbers. The only reason they’d go for Nalder is business connections,” they said.
“I don’t think [Nalder] will resonate with voters.”
A descendant of the Yamatji people in WA’s Mid-West, Kirkup’s paternal grandfather was a Yamatji man. Should he win the leadership vote Kirkup will become the first Indigenous party leader in WA.
While Kirkup promises to reinvigorate the Liberal Party after a stagnant year which saw Liberal voters lose faith in Harvey, Nalder is claiming his experience as a former banking executive makes him a more suitable choice to lead the party into the looming election.
Although a Kirkup leadership could signify the start of a more moderate Liberal leadership with Kirkup at the helm, the WA Liberals run the risk of losing Kirkup altogether come the March 13 election.
Kirkup holds the seat of Dawesville—the most marginal in the State—by a 0.9 per cent margin, while Nalder holds the safe Liberal seat of Bateman.
The WA election is scheduled for March 13, 2021.
By Hannah Cross