Dean Nalder and Zak Kirkup nominate for the Liberal leadership

Dean Nalder and Zak Kirkup have both put their hands up to be the next leader of the WA Liberal party after the shock resignation of Liza Harvey.

On Sunday morning Harvey announced she’s vacate the leadership role and allow new blood to take the party to the state election in March 2021. Harvey said she hoped to remain a front bench member of the Liberal team.

Dean Nalder, currently the Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Energy has announced he will content the leadership competition. Nalder, who is 54 years old, entered parliament at the 2013 state election representing the seat of Alfred Cove.  Ahead of the 2017 election his seat was abolished and he moved to the seat of Bateman, winning pre-selection over the sitting member Matt Taylor.

When former Liberal leader Troy Buswell resigned form parliament in 2014, Nalder was appointed Minister for Transport and Minister for Finance in the Barnett government. He later stood down from the Finance Minister role after their was concern about his financial interests. As Transport Minister he was in charge of the government’s role out of the MAX light rail network, a project that was eventually abandoned.

Nalder challenged Colin Barnett for the Liberal leadership in 2016 and resigned from his ministerial position. His challenge was unsuccessful. He is popular with business groups and is expected to remain in parliament after the election as his electorate is regarded as a safe seat.

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.

Political commentators are tipping Kirkup to be the victor at Wednesday’s party room meeting, noting he appears to have the backing of political heavyweights in the party. While winning the 2021 election may be an insurmountable task, many believe Kirkup has the ability to ‘save the furniture’ and stop the party losing more seats.

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. In October 2020 the program’s funding was not renewed.

OIP Staff

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