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Liberals 'terminally on the nose' as Guy warns of wipeout



The opposition's crushing defeat has exacerbated tensions in the administrative committee – the liberals' key decision-making body – with renewed calls for President Michael Kroger to resign.

This week's administrative committee member, Greg Mirabella, husband of former Federal Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella, emailed his colleagues saying the party needed a new team at the top to fight the federal election.

Mr Mirabella listed the loss of votes in the blue-ribbon Liberal seats among his main concerns.

"This means that not only does our product stink, it stinks to our own people," he wrote. "We can understand why hip-pocket voters in eastern suburbs might have turned against us but in Hawthorn and Brighton? Our own people do not like us enough to vote for us. "

Our own people do not like us enough to vote for us

Guy Mirabella

In a subsequent email Mr Mirabella said the party urgently needed rebranding.

"You should appreciate better than the maximum that in politics, perception is reality and the perception is that Michael [Kroger] is the public face of the party and our party is almost terminally on the nose. "

In response to Mr Mirabella's e-mail party treasurer David Mond attempted to move a motion of no confidence in the party's president and in his capacity as chair of the administrative committee.

Liberal Party President Michael Kroger on election night

Liberal Party President Michael Kroger on election night Credit:AAP

"Whatever personal differences may be around the table, we must be of a single voice on this issue," Mr Mond said. "I will say that for every one of you, this is a moment of truth."

However, it is understood that the motion was not submitted to the committee.

One Liberal source said it was "a bit rich" that the Mirabellas were "talking about brand damage".

Last night, the Coalition was on track to win just 26 of 88 seats in the lower house of the Victorian Parliament. The distinct possibility that Hawthorn MP John Pesutto could lose his seat has devastated the party considering he was touted as a possible leadership candidate.

Senior Liberal sources confirmed former opposition leader Matthew Guy urged the administrative committee to avoid "lynching" Mr Kroger and state director Nick Demiris, telling the party's meeting needed to stick together.

Mr. Guy has also been praised by the team for the campaign effort, including what he described as an impressive advertising campaign as well as one of the most successful volunteer turn outs and "ground game" the party had run in recent years.

But he was frank in describing what he saw as problems with the "Liberal brand" and the electorate's overall perception of the party, which he said had suffered from the leadership instability of August and the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull.

He told members at the table the party would soon be "defunct" if it did not address problems within the Liberal brand.

But Mr Guy was "unintelligible", according to an angry email fired off on Thursday by failed Liberal candidate for Albert Park Andrew Bond.

In his review of the campaign, Mr Bond said that it became "worryingly obvious that Matthew Guy was unintelligible" from phone calls with voters in the electorate.

"After a few weeks of making calls, I estimate approximately one in 10 people would respond unprompted that they could never vote for the Liberal Party while Matthew Guy was a leader," he said.

Mr Bond said "numerous scandals" and Mr Guy's record as planning minister were regularly mentioned by voters.

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The Federal Leadership Crisis was just the "final nail in the coffin", Mr Bond said after a poorly run campaign with badly-thought out policies and messaging.

"We would have won if the federal leadership challenge did not occur? Probably not, as much else went wrong with leadership spill."

Mr Bond said the opposition had lost its appeal to a "core group of our supporters".

"This group is comfortable, wealthy, employed or retirees, and small business owners.

"But they are also non-religious but not anti-religion, somewhat concerned about the environment, but not Greens, and compassionate about their fellow humans, but not Social Justice Warriors."

However, the bitterness in the Federal Parliament since "ensured that right to the election day the idea that the Liberal Party was out of touch and dysfunctional was continually top of mind for many."

He warned that some of the constituents who said he would vote for Liberal at the state level made it clear they would not vote for Liberal at the federal election.

For the first time in my life I am not voting Liberal

Feedback to Andrew Bond when doorknocking

"The most frequently heard phrase in the last month, while making the doorknocking and standing on pre-poll was," For the first time in my life I am not voting Liberal. ""

The party faces a bruising meeting of its state assembly Friday night where some members are considering moving a no-confidence motion to key members of the Liberal leadership.

Earlier on Thursday, Polwarth MP Richard Riordan delivered a scathing assessment of the loss during an ABC interview on Thursday, saying the party needed to lift female representation and consider introducing gender quotas.

"We need to grow our pool of candidates and if necessary have quotas to force it on, so be it," Mr Riordan said.

Benjamin is a state political reporter

Samantha is a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Sumeyya is a trainee journalist for The Age.

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