Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup to be new leader of WA Liberals

Zak Kirkup is set to be the new leader of the WA Liberals, with his opponent dropping out of the race ahead of this morning’s party meeting.

Shadow Health Minister Kirkup was set to face off against Shadow Treasurer and former Barnett cabinet member Dean Nalder today, until Nalder withdrew from contention with a statement this morning.

“In the best interests of the Liberal Party, I withdraw my intention to nominate as Leader of the WA Liberal party at this morning’s party room meeting,” Nalder said.

“It has become apparent that I don’t have the majority support of my parliamentary colleagues and therefore will clear a path for the new leader. I have been humbled at the level of support from my electorate and the wider community.”

The leadership battle follows Liza Harvey’s decision to stand aside earlier this week, four months out from WA’s next state election.

Zak Kirkup is the member for Dawesville and entered parliament in 2017. As a first term parliamentarian he has quickly risen in the ranks and was appointed Shadow Health Minister under Liza Harvey.

He dropped out of his university degree to work as a researcher for Matt Birney when he was leader of the opposition. He later worked as a political staffer for federal senator Judith Adams and was an environmental advisor to former Premier Colin Barnett. He had also spent time working in the private sector.

Kirkup’s Dawesville seat has a margin of just 0.7 and he won the 2017 election by just 343 votes. He has been considered one of the oppositions better performers and has been critical of Premier Mark McGowan’s defamation action against billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer.

Kirkup has previously spoken out against the Safe Schools program that was designed to stop the bullying of LGBTI students in secondary education.

“I think it’s a radical social programming agenda disguised as an anti-bullying campaign; it’s a Trojan horse that actively isolates and exploits lesbian, bisexual and gay students just to execute an ideological position,” Kirkup told the Mandurah Mail in 2016.

“We already have schools in Mandurah that are safe.

“It’s part of the ideological agenda by what I consider academic elites to use language like ‘safe schools’ to imply that a school is not safe if it does not have it. It’s unfortunate but that is exactly the way they’re pursuing what I think is a radical agenda.”

When the McGowan Government came to power in 2017, the program was rebranded as Inclusive Education WA. In October 2020, the program’s funding was not renewed.

OIP Staff

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