Internal state election review finds former Prime Minister Scott Morrison ‘damaged’ Liberal brand

Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s leadership has “damaged” the Liberal party’s brand and contributed to its loss at the New South Wales election, an internal review has found.

Key points:

  • An internal review is looking into the party’s defeat at the March state election
  • The review found federal Liberals had damaged “the brand”
  • MPs said Dominic Perrottet did not have enough time to reach Gladys Berejiklian’s popularity

Former NSW Liberal MP Peta Seaton and former premier Nick Greiner are finalising a review of the party’s defeat at the March state election and briefed the NSW Liberal party room on Tuesday.

The Coalition lost the NSW election in March, ending a 12-year reign in the state.

Liberals who have knowledge of Tuesday’s meeting have told the ABC that the reviewers believed the federal Liberal party had “damaged the brand”.

NSW former premier Nick Greiner with former Prime Minister John Howard
Nick Greiner is looking at the Liberal party’s defeat at the March election.(AAP: Mick Tsikas)

One MP said the damage had been done by the Robodebt scandal, as well as revelations that Mr Morrison had secretly appointed himself to several ministerial portfolios during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reviewers said the number one reason voters did not re-elect the party was a feeling it was “time” for a change of government.

The reviewers also cited the NSW Liberal party’s own scandals, including the “jobs for the boys” appointment of former deputy premier John Barilaro to a lucrative New York trade role, which he later withdrew from.

Liberal MPs were also told former premier Gladys Berejiklian’s popularity was “stratospheric” and had she remained leader, the party could have won another term.

A female politician posing for a photo with a supporter.
Ms Berejiklian’s popularity could have won the Liberal party another term had she stayed on as leader.(AAP: Lukas Coch)

Ms Berejiklian resigned as leader in October 2021 after the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announced she was under investigation for breaching the public trust.

The ICAC released its report in June, finding both Ms Berejiklian and her then-boyfriend, former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, had both engaged in “serious corrupt conduct”.

It is understood Mr Greiner and Ms Seaton told MPs that former premier Dominic Perrottet was “popular” but did not have enough time in office to reach Ms Berejiklian’s level of popularity.

NSW Liberals were also told to invest more in social media to “get the message out”, particularly to younger voters, and an “editorial in the Daily Telegraph” no longer had the same impact.

One MP said Ms Seaton also flagged the “bad behaviour” of the party’s 28-person state executive, telling MPs if she behaved like that on a company board, she would “be in jail”.

It is understood the behaviour Ms Seaton was referring to involves party in-fighting and poor governance.

The state executive is expected to be handed a final report on the election loss this year.

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