Teal or no teal? Liberals hatching plans to reclaim lost heartland

The so-called 'teal wave' saw independents take over much of the Liberal Party's heartland.

The so-called 'teal wave' saw independents take over much of the Liberal Party's heartland.

Former New South Wales treasurer Matt Kean has refused to say if he plans to run for federal politics as the Liberal Party formulates a plan to recapture seats lost to teal independents.

Sky News reported on Sunday that another former state minister Rob Stokes was considering nominating for the teal-held seat of Mackellar after an approach by senior party figures.

On Sunday, Mr Kean declined to comment when asked if he considered nominating for North Sydney, a seat held by independent Kylea Tink.

Cricket Australia boss Mike Baird has previously declined to comment on whether he intends to contest a federal election.

But he has for years been touted as a potential candidate for the seat of Warringah, where he lives.

The seat fell to independent challenger Zali Steggall, who deposed former prime minister Tony Abbott, in 2019.

Whether the Liberals can ever regain the six seats lost to teal challengers is a question that has hung over the party since last May’s election loss and its subsequent right turn.

Mr Kean clashed frequently with former prime minister Scott Morrison over environmental policy. He has maintained better relations with Mr Dutton, who appeared at the launch of his state election campaign.

The possibility of drafting the three high-profile state Liberals has been brought into focus by looming preselection deadlines.

Liberal leader Peter Dutton wrote to party bosses in May asking for preselections for all 24 seats in NSW to be held by November.

Failure to do so, Mr Dutton implied, could result in him moving to take over the troubled NSW division, which delayed contests in controversial circumstances at the last election.

Liberals are pushing back against Mr Dutton’s edict, at least for teal-held seats, arguing that good candidates would be put off by the need to campaign for an election that might not be held until May 2025.

But nominations have already been declared open in Warringah.

And the resignation of long-serving Senator Marise Payne has opened up another preselection to be contested between Liberal factions.

Serial federal aspirant Andrew Constance, from the party’s moderate wing, and No campaign frontman Warren Mundine, who aligns with the right, are likely frontrunners.

Securing support in that contest could involve factional deals affecting the outcome of preselections for the teal seats.

Dr Sophie Scamps holds Mackellar on a two-party-preferred margin of 2.5 per cent after achieving a swing of more than 15 per cent.

Independent MP Kylea Tink holds North Sydney by a two-party-preferred margin of just under 3 per cent after claiming a swing of 12 points.

The electoral commission is expected to convene next year to consider possible redistributions of seats in NSW.

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