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Kevin Andrews’ conqueror ‘not a reasonable’

The new Liberal candidate for the blue ribbon seat of Menzies insists he is not a moderate after dethroning a conservative colleague.

Commando-turned-barrister Keith Wolahan defeated veteran Victorian MP Kevin Andrews in a preselection contest on Sunday.

Mr Andrews, 65, had the backing of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg as well as support from former leaders John Howard and Tony Abbott.

Conservative commentators Andrew Bolt and Peta Credlin also endorsed the former cabinet minister.

But his 43-year-old challenger had the backing of party moderates.

“I’m not a moderate. I never joined the Liberal Party to be called a moderate,” Mr Wolahan told ABC radio on Monday.

“Victorian Liberals are very proudly classical liberals, and sometimes you have to be conservative to protect those values.”

Mr Andrews, considered one of the Liberals’ leading conservatives, has been in federal parliament for 30 years.

Known as the “Father of the House”, he is parliament’s longest serving member.

It is the first time a sitting federal Liberal MP has been unseated in a Victorian preselection since 1990.

State Liberal leader Michael O’Brien praised Mr Andrews, but said party members had decided it was time for renewal.

“Kevin can leave parliament at the next election with his head held high for everything that he’s achieved, but I do welcome Keith Wolahan,” Mr O’Brien told reporters in Melbourne.

“Keith is going to be part of the regeneration of the Victorian Liberal Party. He is a star in the making.”

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