Media commentator Steve Price has backed calls for Peta Credlin to challenge for the leadership of the moribund Victorian Liberal Party, as supporters urge her to take on Premier Daniel Andrews.
Credlin, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and now Sky News presenter, tangled with Mr Andrews at press conferences last year, challenging him over hotel quarantine failures that triggered a second wave of coronavirus.
Price, writing in the Herald Sun, says Credlin is uniquely qualified for the job given her professional experience working within politics, the media and independent companies, as well as her public battles with Premier Andrews.
‘If that’s not the most impressive job application for the next person to lead a Victorian Liberal Government, I don’t believe one exists,’ Price said.
The calls came as a challenge for the leadership of the Liberals failed on Tuesday, with incumbent Michael O’Brien winning a party-room vote 22-9 against challenger Brad Battin.
The Liberals, like most state opposition parties, had struggled for political cut-through during the Covid pandemic in which Premiers took on unprecedented highs of public profile and importance.
Ms Credlin is a born-and-raised Victorian, growing up in town of Wycheproof before moving to Geelong where she was deputy school captain at Sacred Heart College.
She worked as a senior advisor for Brendan Nelson when he served as federal Opposition Leader for the Liberals in 2007 before joining Malcolm Turnbull’s team when he overtook Nelson for the top job.
Peta Credlin has been urged by many supporters to run for the leadership of the Liberal Party in Victoria and challenge Premier Daniel Andrews
Credlin then became Tony Abbott’s chief of staff when he successfully overthrew then-leader Turnbull in 2009.
Price, who is a regular on Channel 10’s The Project, says her experience both in successful campaigns – like Tony Abbott’s re-election as Prime Minister in 2013 – and failed campaigns including Turnbull’s successful spill over Abbott two years later – makes her the best candidate to challenge Mr Andrews.
Price acknowledges that Ms Credlin ‘probably doesn’t want’ to challenge for the position despite strong backing among some party powerbrokers, but says her credentials ‘don’t need more of a sell’.
Credlin had repeated run-ins with Premier Andrews during his daily coronavirus briefings towards the end of 2020, questioning his decision of using private security for hotel quarantine instead of police and defence forces.
During a lengthy question she said: ‘You obviously announced private security in hotel quarantine on March 27.’
Mr Andrews interrupted her and insisted that was not true.
‘I did not announce private security on March 27, we’ve been through this a couple of times,’ he said.
‘I’m not going to stand here and have things put to me in an attempt to perhaps have them put to me so often that they become the truth.
‘I did not make that announcement on the 27th. I referred to private security, I referred to Victoria police and I referred to our entire health team,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘In the very next breath I indicated that these matters had not been settled.’
Credlin then started reading the premier lines from his statement to the media on 27 March.
He tried to interrupt before she said: ‘Excuse me premier I’ll finish.’
Mr Andrews tersely replied: ‘I’ve no doubt you will finish, I’ve no doubt at all.’
Referring to their previous clashes during press conferences, he said: ‘This is now the second or third time when you have put something to me that is absolutely incorrect and I will not have that.
‘You can ask me any question you like and you are entitled to do that… but facts matter and no such announcement was made that day.’
‘To assert otherwise is simply inaccurate.’
Credlin will be celebrating her 50th birthday later this week, and her husband and former Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane is inviting many of her political and media friends, according to reports by The Australian.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott will ‘definitely’ be in attendance, the publication says.
Credlin asks her Facebook followers each week for topics to discuss on Sky News -and her page has since been littered with requests from followers for her to run for parliament and challenge for the leadership.
‘Will you give Daniel Andrews the fright of his life and run for State Parliament as the leader of the Liberal Party in Victoria?’ one user commented.
Peta, go for the top job in VIC, you will win for sure,’ another replied.