Former premier Robin Gray says Abetz has to go

Robin Gray

Robin Gray

Former Tasmanian Liberal premier Robin Gray has labelled the Liberal Party’s organisational wing as “inept” and says Eric Abetz should step aside.

Mr Gray, who was premier during the 1980s, said on Monday the party failed to understand the importance of personal support in Tasmania, and said it contributed to the party’s huge loss in the state.

“The Liberal Party organisation is, in my opinion, inept and without any great understanding of how seats in Tasmania are won,” Mr Gray said.

“It’s quite different to the rest of Australia.

“You have to have strong personal following.”

Mr Gray, who was the first Liberal premier to be elected in his own right, said without a strong personal following candidates would struggle to get elected.

“All the posters in the world won’t get you there if you haven’t got the personal support,” he said.

The 76-year-old took a swipe at Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, and said he believed the party had been in disarray for 20 years under his watch. 

The pair have a history – which includes a feud in the early 1990s that saw Mr Gray removed as Liberal leader.

“It’s time that he stood aside in the interests of the party and the interests of younger people,” Mr Gray said.

“He’s been responsible for driving people away from the party.

“You cannot have such an unpopular character there as a spokesperson for the federal party.

“I’ve often said to people every time he goes on television he loses us 1000 votes.”

Mr Gray said without the organisational wing reforming, people would continue to be “turned off” the Liberals.

Senator Abetz said on Sunday it would be a reflective time for the Liberals as the party comprehended the loss of three seats in Tasmania.

He said the Labor Party ran a deceptive campaign about Medicare, but the Liberals needed to reflect on why the party’s policies did not resonate with Tasmanians. 

Senator Abetz suggested the Liberal policy of increasing tax on superannuation may have cost votes.

"The issue of superannuation is very dear to the core base of the Liberal party," he said.

"To have the certainty of that being compromised did send shock waves through that sector of the community that are our core supporters.”

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