Future WA Liberal leaders would be elected by all Liberal Party members across the state in a bold plan to revitalise the Party and break the influence of powerbrokers.
Western Australia would become the first division of the Liberal Party in the country to popularly elect its leader, rather than the leader being selected by fellow Members of Parliament.
The reform plan is being championed by Chief Government Whip Senator Dean Smith in the wake of the watershed WA election and means the next Liberal leader would draw their legitimacy from a popular vote by rank-and-file Liberal Party members.
“The recent election was a disaster for the WA Liberal Party and highlights the need for urgent, meaningful Party reforms to rebuild credibility and relevance with the electorate,” Senator Smith said.
“The past few weeks have been a time of deep reflection for many long-standing WA Liberal Party members and what I am proposing is based on conversations with them during this time.
“I believe a popularly elected WA Liberal leader will increase and empower the Liberal Party membership.
“Critically, it would also put an end to a handful of powerbrokers choosing the leader and influencing the decisions they make.
“This breaks the power of the powerbrokers, because a popularly elected Liberal leader would no longer be their servant, but the servant of all Liberal Party members across the state.
“The Liberal Party State conference in July would the appropriate forum to launch this new process.
“The reform will allow the membership to choose from long-term, committed Liberals, whether they are Members of State Parliament or not.
“If the Liberal Party membership chooses somebody who is not a WA Member of Parliament, that person would lead the Party until a seat became available for them.
“The practice of a leader operating from outside Parliament has already been accepted by voters elsewhere in Australia.
“Campbell Newman became leader of Queensland’s LNP in 2011, despite not holding a seat in Parliament, and went on to win 78 of 89 seats in the 2012 Queensland election.
“The model I am proposing, election of the leader by all party members, has been used internationally, including in Canada.”
Senator Smith, who has been a WA Liberal Party member for more than 30 years, intends to seek endorsement for his bold reform plan following the review of the Party’s recent election loss.
“If we fail to reform over the next few months, the future of the Liberal Party in Western Australia is in jeopardy, becoming an irrelevant political force in the minds of even our most loyal voters – who deserted us in droves at the election.
“I am confident the WA Liberal Party membership will embrace my reform plan because, at its core, it is giving every member a real say in important decision making.
“Now is the moment to make us more relevant, with an expanded membership that will position us to offer the electorate a credible alternative Government in 2025.”