Dumped senator to run for Victorian Liberal presidency

Ousted Liberal senator Greg Mirabella has launched a bid to replace former attorney-general Robert Clark as the Liberal Party’s state president.

Clark, who took over the presidency in 2018 after the party’s crushing election defeat, announced on Friday that he would resign in August.

Victoria’s Liberal Party president Robert Clark will resign in August.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui 

In a letter circulated to members, Clark said he had restored democratic preselection, strengthened the party’s constitution and supported the Liberals’ bid to win long-held state Labor seats.

"These and other reforms have provided a sound foundation for our party to win and succeed in future," Clark said.

Clark’s supporters argue he has been a process-driven president and a steady hand, though his detractors – aligned with federal MPs and powerbroker Michael Kroger – have regularly criticised his administration.

Senator Greg Mirabella during his maiden speech.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Clark instituted a forensic audit of the party’s membership after The Age and 60 Minutes exposed an alleged branch stacking operation.

Mirabella’s supporters believe he will bring campaigning expertise to the division ahead of the November state election. The former senator and his office played a key role in the party’s unsuccessful campaign in the outer-northern seat of McEwen – one of the few seats that swung toward the Liberal Party in the recent federal election wipeout.

His backers believe the former army veteran, who lost his senate position to a United Australia Party candidate, will bring a hard edge to the branch as it aims to rejuvenate itself after the federal election.

Clark’s term will expire in August, when the party’s annual state council will be asked to decide on a replacement.

Mirabella is expected to face a challenge from internal forces backed by factional opponents, linked to former president Michael Kroger, who have previously tried to take back control of the party position.

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