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Liberal challenger quits frontbench after failing to topple O’Brien

Mr O’Brien had earlier signalled he would demote Mr Battin and his key supporters in response to the push against his leadership, which he said ended in an “overwhelming endorsement” of his leadership.

“The party has very strongly resolved to keep the leadership in place,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We need to get our focus on Victorians … rebuilding this state and saving us from this Labor government that’s quickly sending us broke.”

Mr O’Brien acknowledged he wasn’t perfect and said he would listen and consult with his colleagues to ensure he is not challenged again.

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After his motion failed, Mr Battin said he had a “very good resume” and could have run a “good, positive campaign” had he been elected leader.

“We must respect the decision … to support Michael O’Brien,” he said.

“I put my name forward … because I know I can run a good, positive campaign.”

“This is not an embarrassment for me… It needed to be put to a partyroom vote,” he said.

“This is a line in the sand to get our position right.”

Mr Battin’s chances of defeating Mr O’Brien were dealt a heavy blow on Monday night when a key group of MPs aligned to former Opposition leader Matthew Guy decided to vote against the spill.

Brad Battin addresses the media after his unsuccessful tilt for the Liberal leadership.

Brad Battin addresses the media after his unsuccessful tilt for the Liberal leadership.Credit:Justin McManus

Mr O’Brien arrived at Parliament about 8.20am, flanked by his senior leadership team, ahead of the vote. He said then he was confident he would be endorsed as leader.

“Do we want strong and open Victoria?… That’s what my team will offer,” Mr O’Brien said before the meeting.

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“I’m very confident I’ll have the support of my team and the partyroom.”

Mr O’Brien was accompanied by his backers, senior MPs Georgie Crozier, Louise Staley and David Davis.

Mr Guy, who entered minutes after Mr O’Brien, confirmed he would not be supporting the challenge, which was a key reason why it failed.

Shadow frontbenchers David Hodgett, Matt Bach and Bernie Finn said they would back O’Brien, while Upper House MP Beverley MacArthur said she would back the spill motion.

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