THE re-emergence of Matthew Guy as state Opposition Leader saw Mornington MP David Morris lose his position in the shadow cabinet and Eastern Victoria MP Edward O’Donohue bring forward his retirement from parliament.
Mr Morris was the Coalition’s spokesperson for local government, housing and aged care and Mr O’Donohue – whose electorate includes Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula – had already signalled that he would not contest next year’s state election.
A supporter of former leader Michael O’Brien (“you back your leader”), Mr Morris was one of 11 MPs who voted against the spill that saw Mr Guy appointed Opposition Leader on Wednesday 8 September. Seven of the 11 were left out of the 20-strong shadow cabinet.
Mr Morris told The Times last week that being freed of his shadow portfolio duties meant “I can focus 100 per cent on my immediate job – being the member for Mornington”.
He said the state government had “failed to live up to its rhetoric” to protect the peninsula during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the neighbouring electorate of Hastings, Liberal MP Neale Burgess, who supported Mr Guy, was also left out of the shadow cabinet.
Neither Mr Morris or Mr Burgess mentioned Mr Guy’s victory on their social media or websites.
On the day of the spill Mr Morris posted that the Liberals “have a plan to boost mental health support for schools” with a follow-up one day later quoting adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg saying, “I think they need to put a psychologist in every school now”, with the added comment: “Matthew Guy is right about this…”
Mr Morris told The Times that he would definitely contest the November 2022 election. “Absolutely, I’ll stand. I’m going nowhere.”
Pre-selections are likely to be held for Hastings and Mornington after the results of a Victorian Electoral Commission redistribution are released at the end of October and before the end of the year.
In the days after Mr Guy’s appointment Mr O’Donohue, one of five MPs representing the upper house seat of Eastern Victoria, announced he would leave parliament before the end of 2021. The region of Eastern Victoria includes the peninsula and Frankston as well as East Gippsland.
Mr O’Donohue issued a statement saying he had already told Mr O’Brien that he did not intend to contest the 2022 election but decided to bring that date forward “with imminent changes to be made to the shadow cabinet, I have decided, in consultation with current Liberal Leader Matthew Guy”.
Mr O’Donohue ended his statement saying: “I wish my friend Matthew Guy and the Liberal Nationals team every success at the November 2022 state election, Victoria needs a better, positive alternative which only the Liberal Nationals can deliver.”
First elected in 2006, Mr O’Donohue was shadow attorney general in Mr O’Brien’s shadow cabinet.
The Liberal Party has yet to announce its choice of a successor to Mr O’Donohue.