A senior Nationals MP has lashed the Victorian Liberals as an “election losing machine”, urging the party to learn from the lesson of Josh Frydenberg’s defeat.
In a statement on Monday, the outgoing treasurer confirmed he had formally conceded Kooyong to independent candidate Monique Ryan.
“It’s been an incredible privilege to have served as the local member for the last 12 years,” he said.
Former cabinet minister Darren Chester said the party must learn from the lessons of Mr Frydenberg’s loss if the Victorian Liberals were to be competitive in November’s state election.
“The Liberal Party in Victoria is an election losing machine and anyone who thinks the result in November will be any different, if they don’t change direction now, is simply kidding themselves,” the Nationals MP wrote in a bruising social media post.
“When the wealth-belt is prepared to toss out a moderate, experienced and capable Treasurer, for an unproven activist, you need to listen to the message, regardless of how unpalatable it is,” he wrote.
Mr Chester was re-elected to his seat of Gippsland with a 4.5 per cent swing to him.
But he acknowledged his party must take some of the blame for the moderate Liberal bloodbath in Sydney and Melbourne.
“We need to take some responsibility for the Liberal losses in the city, with the more extreme views of some colleagues undoubtedly hurting the chances of our city cousins,” Mr Chester said.
“It was simple and devastatingly effective to say a vote for those moderate Liberals was a vote for the ‘dinosaurs’ in The Nationals who didn’t believe in climate change.”
He warned “lurching further to the political right” would only send the Coalition to political irrelevancy.
Mr Chester’s intervention comes as the Liberals seek to pick themselves up after a scathing election loss which saw the previously safe seats of Kooying, Goldstein and Higgins all fall.
In Sydney, independents now occupy Wentworth, North Sydney, Warringah and Mackellar.
Outgoing defence minister Peter Dutton is tipped to be the next Liberal leader, after Scott Morrison confirmed he would step aside.