Key points

  • The Kew MP’s political career collapsed after he crashed his car drunk last year.
  • On Sunday, he confirmed his hopes of having a future in politics.
  • But he said the Liberal Party needed to forget the concerns of “inner urban elites”.

Tim Smith, the Victorian MP who crashed his car into the fence of a Hawthorn home while drunk last year, has said the Liberal Party should abandon “the woke concerns” of “urban elites” in his own Melbourne seat and focus on the outer suburbs.

Smith, who is due to leave the Victorian Parliament at the November state election, announced his hopes on Sunday of having a future in politics on the Outsiders program on Sky News, his first television interview in months. “I’m uncancelled and I’m back,” Smith said.

Victorian state Liberal MP Tim Smith at a press conference in November.Credit:Justin McManus

Smith’s career collapsed in October after he ploughed his Jaguar into the fence outside an eight-year-old child’s bedroom and subsequently resigned as shadow attorney general. He is seeing out his term as the member for Kew until the November 26 election.

“I’d like to have a future in politics,” Smith said on Sunday. “I’d like to have a voice. I’d like to re-enter the debate as I did this week [in a piece published by conservative publication Spectator].

“I really want to get back into the fray. I feel like I’ve got something to add, and I feel that the Liberal Party – I don’t feel, I know – the Liberal Party is teetering on the precipice and needs to focus on the people who need us …

“The quiet Australians, the forgotten people, the people that Menzies set the party up to represent. And they don’t live in Toorak anymore, I hate to tell you.”

Toorak is part of the state seat of Malvern, held by former opposition leader and Liberal MP Michael O’Brien. Katie Allen lost the federal seat of Higgins to Labor’s Michelle Ananda-Rajah in last week’s election.

“Stop obsessing with the woke concerns and obsessions with the inner-urban elites; stop it, forget about it, move further afield,” Smith said. “Take the focus off Kew, and focus on Cranbourne.”

Smith added that the party stood for nothing at the federal election.

He did not respond to requests for comment from The Age on Sunday.

It would be open to Smith to nominate for preselection for the upper house ahead of the November election, which sources close to him have previously downplayed.

His state seat of Kew falls in the federal seat of Kooyong, one of a swathe of electorates in Liberal territory flipped by independent challengers who campaigned for climate action and a national integrity watchdog.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy speaking after upper house MP Bernie Finn was expelled from the parliamentary Liberal Party.Credit:Joe Armao

Former treasurer Josh Frydenberg was the highest-profile Liberal cast out at the federal election, after a successful challenge from Monique Ryan.

The federal seats of Goldstein, North Sydney, Mackellar, Wentworth and Curtin were also former Liberal seats picked up by the independents backed by Climate 200.

The wipeout sparked an identity crisis for Victorian Liberals, with Jason Wood the only Liberal to improve his margin in the state.

The opposition declined to respond to Smith’s comments on Sunday, pointing to recent comments from Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, who acknowledged the party faced an uphill battle in inner-Melbourne.

“Yes, we have clear issues in the inner-city areas,” Guy told The Age last week. “That’s true. But that’s not the whole state. Victoria is a segmented market, and I think what you’re seeing here is that playing out.”

Guy quickly moved against Smith, his former ally with leadership aspirations, after his drink-driving crash last year.

Asked on Sunday how he felt he was handled by the leader in the fallout, Smith said: “My mother always taught me, ‘if you’ve got nothing nice to say, say nothing at all’.”

Smith had his licence cancelled after driving more than two and a half times over the legal alcohol limit.

He apologised at the time and acknowledged he’d made a “serious error of judgement”.

Jess Wilson, a former staffer to Frydenberg, has been preselected to represent the party in Kew at the November poll. She will be defending a margin of 4.8 per cent.

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