Ryan Smith masterminding challenge
Embattled Victorian Opposition Leader, Michael O’Brien, today is “shaking to the core” after Brad Battin put his name forward as a contender for the Liberal Party’s top role.
In an unsurprising move known for some time by Party insiders, Mr Battin, the MP for Gembrook, announced that he would challenge for the leadership before May this year. He has announced his intention for a leadership spill as soon as possible.
Mr Battin’s challenge comes after conferring with his small group of allies and encouraged by senior MP Ryan Smith who is a long time background opponent of Michael O’Brien.
Ryan Smith, a capable and likeable MP, is a quiet supporter of both Matthew Guy and Brad Battin, or any other challenger to Michael O’Brien’s embarrassing and gaffe-prone performance in the past year.
While a few senior MPs such as Bruce Atkinson, Kim Wells and Heidi Victoria have declined to indicate whether they support the change, most MPs privately concede they are voting against O’Brien.
The Party meeting on Tuesday 16 March is just the start of the process to get the Liberal Party on track. Numbers are in favour of the challenge as masterminded by Ryan Smith, who will be in good standing to take a senior role for the future of the Party.
Ryan Smith, who has been in close contact with both Matthew Guy supporter Tim Smith and Brad Battin, has been working for months to ensure Michael O’Brien’s defeat. He has further worked to cement bonds with upcoming MPs like Bridget Vallence, Richard Riordan and Brad Rowswell who all will be set for promotions once Mr O’Brien is forced out of the top job.
While Michael O’Brien has been on a charm offensive with Left-leaning media outlets and at the Liberal Party’s divided State Assembly, he appears to be on borrowed time.
Party members were critical of Michael O’Brien when he agreed with “dictator” Premier Daniel Andrews on the extent of the economically damaging COVID lockdown, and his open support for banning Christian counselling for gays.
While Ryan Smith is positioned for victory, he may have inadvertently triggered the return of a wiser, humbler Matthew Guy.
Brad Battin is well liked and seen as an upcoming new leader, but some of his colleagues believed that Mr Battin is only a pretty face and has had long time unrealistic tickets on himself. However, the Victorian Liberals are desperate and eager for change considering the alarming Western Australian election result.
Mr O’Brien’s strongest supporters, Ed O’Donohue, David Davis, Louise Staley, Cindy McLeish, Wendy Lovell and David Morris have publicly commented that they support Michael O’Brien staying in the current role. This is because they have the most to benefit under the current arrangement and most to lose if he goes.
Party members are keeping an eye on Ryan Smith as he now rises to the fore as a key figure, hoping for rewards from Brad Battin, Matthew Guy or whoever replaces Michael O’Brien.
Those who will vote against Michael O’Brien include Roma Britnell, Nick Wakeling, Neil Angus, Neil Burgess, James Newbury, Bernie Finn, Craig Ondarchie, Bev McArthur and Georgie Crozier.