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Jane is a retail and small business writer with a special interest in emerging companies and entrepreneurs. She covered the financial services industry before moving into general business journalism and has written for The Age and The Australian Financial Review.

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Ted Baillieu walks, but where to from here?

Published 07 March 2013 11:52, Updated 07 March 2013 14:42

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Ted Baillieu walks, but where to from here?

Ted Baillieu leaves the partyroom after bombshell resignation from his post as premier of Victoria Photo: Justin McManus

With a successful professional and political career and old family money under his belt, former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu will undoubtedly bounce back from his latest setback. However, it might take the Victorian Liberal Party longer.

Social media is rife with speculation over why former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu quit the top state’s top job on Wednesday night. Was he pushed? Was it a last-minute decision? Was that a look of relief on his face? But the question remains, what does this mean for the Liberal Party in Victoria?

There’s been ongoing criticism that Baillieu failed to sell the Coalition’s message and that he has communicated poorly with the public and certain professional groups. Things came to a head yesterday morning with the shock resignation of embattled MP Geoff Shaw.

The Age’s state political editor, Josh Gordon, says Baillieu – who is a member of one of Australia’s richest families – had “very little choice but to resign”, despite having many supporters within the party. Others suggest a lack of support within his own party forced him to make the decision to quit.

“The way I put it he became caught in this downward death spiral and he couldn’t recover from it,” Gordon says.

“In some sense, it’s been a long time coming. There’s been persistent speculation about Ted Baillieu’s leadership for months, even the best part of a year. But what I was told is that he’d have some months, even up to the state budget to turn things around.”

There is also ongoing speculation that new leader, Denis Napthine, is “keeping the seat warm” for Planning Minister Matthew Guy to come down from the upper house and become premier. Such uncertainty does no favours for Napthine’s ability to restore the public’s confidence in the Victorian Liberal Party and its leadership.

“The public are sick of these kinds of shenanigans. They want competency and political parties to get on with it and I don’t think that so far the Liberal Party has shown many signs of doing this frankly. They’re just showing themselves to be a rabble right now,” Gordon says.

Political in-fighting also doesn’t aid in restoring the public’s faith in the leadership of a party. Deputy Liberal leader Louise Asher says Baillieu told her recently he did not have the support of his colleagues. She says with that in mind, his decision to stand down is “honourable” and in the best interest of the party.

“He obviously felt he did not have the support of his colleagues to continue on in the job,” she told Fairfax Media. “Ted advised me that he felt he did not have the confidence to continue on in the job. That was the conclusion he came to . . . I think he has done something honourable.”

While the Liberal Party might struggle to regain popularity, Baillieu himself has plenty of career options. With a background in business and architecture, in 2012 his family was listed in the BRW Rich 50 Familieswith a value of $530 million. Most of the Baillieu family’s wealth is sourced from its property portfolio alongside other private investments.

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