WA Liberal leader Liza Harvey has announced she will step down

After weeks of speculation, Western Australian Liberal leader Liza Harvey has announced she will step down to give the party a fighting chance at the March state election.

Two other MPs have confirmed their leadership ambitions, desperate to fend off an election wipeout.

“I’m standing aside because I think it will give our party an opportunity to reset our election strategy,” Mrs Harvey told reporters today.

Five weeks ago, 9News revealed a campaign to destabilise the WA Liberal leadership — the push to oust Mrs Harvey driven by state and federal party forces.

Deputy Opposition Leader Bill Marmion told 9News in October he was “right behind Liza”.

Shadow Treasurer Dean Nalder had said he was unaware of any challenge or change to Mrs Harvey’s leadership.

9News has confirmed at least two leadership contenders – Dean Nalder (right) and Zac Kirkup. (Nine)

At the time, Mrs Harvey herself labelled the suggestion of an ousting as “absolute nonsense”.

Just 12 days ago the Scarborough MP was adamant she was staying put.

“Look, I’m not going to talk about hypotheticals. I’ll be leading the Liberal Party to the next election,” she said.

But up against a premier harnessing a presidential-style popularity due to COVID-19, Mrs Harvey couldn’t shake the mounting pressure.

“During COVID-19 it’s been extremely difficult for us to get our message out,” she said.

Political commentator Peter Kennedy told 9News there was a view the Liberals were “sleep-walking” to the state election and to defeat.

WA Liberal leader Liza Harvey has announced she will step down.
WA Liberal leader Liza Harvey has announced she will step down. (Nine)

“Something had to happen,” Mr Kennedy said.

9News has confirmed at least two leadership contenders.

The first is Mr Nalder, who has an economic background, ministerial experience and is well-connected to the WA business community.

The second potential contender is 33-year-old Dawsville MP Zac Kirkup, who would bring a young, fresh point of difference for the party.

Mr Kirkup is likely to choose Vasse MP Libby Mettam as his deputy, and commentators say his appointment would be “breaking new ground”.

“I understand that Mr Kirkup has the support of Peter Collier,” Mr Kennedy said. “He’s a Liberal party powerbroker and that support brings a block of votes in his favour.”

“Obviously the Liberal party is very unstable … very divided and not ready for government,” WA Premier Mark McGowan told reporters today.

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