Greg Mirabella resigns as Victorian Liberal president to chase senate spot

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Greg Mirabella has resigned as president of the Victorian Liberal Party in a bid to reboot his political career ahead of the next federal election.

The departure, which comes days before the Warrandyte byelection, was revealed to Liberal members in an email on Tuesday and ahead of the party’s annual general meeting next month, where he was expected to face a challenge.

Victorian Liberal Party president Greg Mirabella (left) and state leader John Pesutto in June.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“It is with mixed feelings that I announce that I am not re-nominating as President of the Victorian Division and that my term will finish at the forthcoming State Council on 23 September,” Mirabella said in an email.

“It has been an honour and a great responsibility to serve our Party and I thank so many of you for your support, advice and encouragement.”

The Mirabella family in 2016.Credit: Meredith O’Shea

The former soldier turned cattle farmer confirmed he will run for the third spot on the Senate ticket, which will be decided at a preselection convention in November ahead of a federal election, due between 2024 and mid-2025.

“This has not been an easy decision, but I do so in the context of my decision to seek pre-selection on the party’s senate ticket for the next federal election, and my wish to avoid any perception of conflict of interest.”

Mirabella, who replaced veteran Liberal Robert Clark in August 2022, has been a controversial figure in the Victorian Liberal Party fuelled, in part, by his attempt to overhaul the party’s administrative wing and his scathing assessments of recent election losses.

In his email to the membership, Mirabella spruiked his administrative changes as improving “the machinery of the Party”, which he said will provide “more horsepower to our MPs and candidates”.

Mirabella is the husband of former MP Sophie Mirabella and has previously served as a senator and member of the Victorian Liberal branch’s decision-making body, the administrative committee.

Conservative forces – including federal and state MPs – have been war-gaming a challenge against Mirabella for months in a move that threatened to further widen the bitter divide between the party’s conservative and moderate factions in Victoria.

Liberal Party Senators Jane Hume and James PatersonCredit: Aresna Villaneuva

Last week The Age revealed Jane Hume, the opposition finance spokeswoman, would challenge home affairs spokesman James Paterson for the top spot on the Victorian Senate ticket.

The internal stoush between two high-profile opposition frontbenchers is expected to open up the race and make it less likely that the runner-up will be guaranteed the second position, which is decided by a separate vote.

While the Liberal Party is all but guaranteed to win the top two senate spots, winning the third seat will require the party to record a strong primary vote across Victoria. The third spot on the senate ticket was previously held by newly independent senator David Van who quit the party in June following multiple allegations of touching women, which he denies.

If successful, it will be Mirabella's second stint in the Upper House after his last senate term came to an end in 2022 when United Australia Party candidate Ralph Babet beat him for the state’s sixth senate spot.

Mirabella defeated Simon Frost, a key ally and former staffer of Josh Frydenberg, in a tussle for the winnable third spot on the Victorian senate ticket in November 2021. He also made an unsuccessful bid for preselection in 2019 when he lost to Sarah Henderson, who was backed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, by 234 votes to 197.

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