National

Vic Libs urged to unite at state council

By AAP Newswire

Victorian Liberal Robert Clark may have lost his seat in the state election, but he's held on to the party's presidency after just six months in the job amid ongoing factional tensions.

Mr Clark defeated longtime party figure Greg Hannan 705 votes to 389 at the party's state council meeting in Melbourne.

It follows Mr Hannan's loss last year to former president Michael Kroger, who this time backed him for the job.

Mr Kroger stepped down from the presidency in December over the Liberals' disastrous election result.

"The party wants to get on with the job, we want to put past times behind us, turn in a new direction, turn in the right direction, and go forward to the future positive and united," Mr Clark told reporters.

The mood at the Moonee Valley Racecourse on Saturday was buoyant as the party faithful revelled in the May federal election win.

It's been a year of highs and lows for the Victorian Liberals, politically and financially, the gathering was told.

The party is $3 million in debt, getting less public cash after the state election thumping and shedding members.

Mr Clark said the Liberals needed to rebuild, become more technology-savvy, and follow up any interest for new recruits after 400 people put in applications since the May federal win.

Treasurer John O'Connell revealed the Liberals were still losing members, with 2100 non-renewals at a cost of $40,000.

November's election disaster has also hit the party's bank balance.

"Unfortunately, as the party receives funding from the (Victorian Electoral Commission) based on the number of votes won, the poor result has led to a $1.1 million reduction in the VEC election funding," Mr O'Connell told the gathering.

"Further, fewer state MPs means another $280,000 reduction in administrative funding from the VEC each and every year."

The party is however propped up by the sale of its Melbourne CBD headquarters, 104 Exhibition Street, for $37.1 million and will soon move into new offices for one year as it looks for a permanent home.

Health Minister Greg Hunt gave the federal address, championing Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his surprise election win months after the party dumped Malcolm Turnbull as leader.

"In Scott Morrison, we have found our leader, somebody who gets the party, who's of the party," Mr Hunt said.

"He understands the breadth of the party, he understands and gets the nature of the Australian people."

The meeting continues on Sunday with an address from state leader Michael O'Brien and a preliminary Victorian election report briefing.