It’s not without good reason that current Victorian Liberal leader Ted Baillieu is sweating like a pig in the lead-up to Christmas pork crackling season over the election of former nemesis Robert Doyle as the state’s most senior elected Liberal, as Melbourne’s Lord Mayor.
Doyle’s crew have already started to make themselves apparent in the Clown Hall and there’s one thing they have in common: they all hate Ted.
Most prominent among them is senior Kroger faction man Russell Hannan, he’s been walking the wide, plush carpeted corridors of
power nostalgia in there with a confident stride. Hannan is a wise head, with a good knowledge of the City’s property scene (quickly becoming more arid than the Sahara) and has extensive political experience as a former Party president and candidate for Mitcham.
Doyle also has a Geelong connection with Kroger supporter Alistair Paterson (expected to be CoS) and Ian Cover from his lonely days after he quit Parliament and headed down to the beach for a quantum of solace, before bouncing back bigger than ever.
Ex MP and Krogerite muscle-man Cameron “Biff” Boardman, who worked on Doyle’s campaign too, has been sighted there, wielding a clipboard of authority. He voted for the leadership spill for Doyle and then lost his seat as a result, one critic recalled today.
A DOYLE FACTION?
Doyle has no shortage of advisers and allies.
Indeed, so numerous are they that some within the Liberal party are looking to Doyle and his supporters to provide the focus for setting an alternative direction to Baillieu’s in the future.
Is a Doyle faction out of the question? Powerbroker Michael Kroger and Doyle have certainly mended fences after a pause in the relationship a while ago.
But Baillieu supporters are emphatic there’ll be zero tolerance for trouble-making, one telling VEX “There’s a lot of goodwill in the Party after the reforms and support for Kemp. Many of the Doyle brigade are old-timers and destabilisers. They won’t be attracting much support. Division won’t be tolerated.”
Some of those who don’t think much of Ted think Doyle could be a very important part of the Liberal rebuilding.
Baillieu isn’t without his own allies in the Town Hall, of course. He can point to Peter Clarke, an old chum, who reputedly hates Doyle.
There’s also Ken Ong, a quite active Liberal who was elected on the supposedly non-party political Gary Singer’s ticket. Ong is believed to be no friend of Doyle either, blaming him for their poor showing in 2002 which apparently cost him his potential seat in Parliament. Ong has already attacked Doyle’s plan for Swanston Street.
But as he’s making very clear already, it’s Doyle in charge.
And while he’s taking care of the City’s $350 million budget, he’ll bide his time, build a powerbase and wait for the opportunity to do unto Ted what Ted did unto him.
Doyle’s friends tell VEXNEWS that “Baillieu undermined him for three and a half years, it’s a fair presumption that it will be remembered.”
A Kroger supporter noted that the danger is “Ted becoming even more internally obsessed, he needs to answer the question, is he going to lead the whole state party or his own personal faction. You can’t do both well.”