First-term MP Zak Kirkup is favourite to be elected new leader of the West Australian Liberals at a partyroom meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Kirkup, 33, is one of two confirmed candidates following the resignation of Liza Harvey less than four months from the March election.

He will face off against former cabinet minister Dean Nalder, the party’s treasury spokesman and a well-connected figure in WA business circles.

Ms Harvey’s decision to quit came after months of disastrous polling for the Liberals, who have already been reduced to just 13 of 59 seats in the lower house.

Mr Kirkup, the opposition’s health spokesman, has been one of the party’s better performers and is considered the frontrunner for the leadership.

He would be the party’s youngest leader since Matt Birney’s short-lived reign in the mid-2000s.

“I think anyone should judge a person by their actions and not by their age,” he said on Monday.


“I’ve made it clear that there’s a real opportunity here for some hard work and energy to go into the team of the new possible Liberal leader.”

An enormous task would await him.

Premier Mark McGowan’s approval ratings have reached record highs in recent months, with his hard border closures proving extremely popular with voters.

His Labor government is widely expected to win a second term and is targeting further marginal Liberal seats after a landslide victory in 2017.

No Liberal seat is tighter than Mr Kirkup’s own of Dawesville, south of Perth, which he holds by a margin of just 0.7 per cent.

Mr Nalder served as transport and finance minister in the former Liberal government but was stripped of the finance portfolio over a conflict of interest.


In 2016, he mounted a failed bid to replace then-premier Colin Barnett.

He has talked up his experience and credentials as a former cabinet minister, small business owner and banking executive.




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