Ab­bott’s man for Lib boss

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - ANNIKA SMETHURST

ANDREW Hirst, a for­mer staffer of Tony Ab­bott, is firm­ing as favourite to take over the Lib­eral Party af­ter a showdown in Can­berra this week.

Mr Hirst, who was Mr Ab­bott’s press sec­re­tary-turned­po­lit­i­cal ad­viser, is be­lieved to be fron­trun­ner to re­place vet­eran fed­eral di­rec­tor Tony Nutt, who re­signed in March.

A sub­com­mit­tee of the fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive in­vited Mr Hirst and other can­di­dates in­clud­ing WA di­rec­tor Andrew Cox and for­mer NSW di­rec­tor Mark Nee­ham to Can­berra this week to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tions.

A se­nior Lib­eral source said Mal­colm Turn­bull’s favoured can­di­date Andrew Bragg, the act­ing fed­eral di­rec­tor, is no longer be­ing con­sid­ered for the role amid in­fight­ing over the ap­point­ment within the or­gan­i­sa­tional wing of the party.

State pres­i­dents launched an eleventh-hour bid to block the ap­point­ment of Mr Bragg, the pol­icy di­rec­tor at the Men­zies Re­search Cen­tre, in favour of Mr Hirst, who runs Can­berra oper­a­tions for re­search firm Crosby Tex­tor.

The Sun­day Tele­graph un­der­stands the com­mit­tee will rec­om­mend the fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive tick off on Mr Hirst’s ap­point­ment af­ter it voted to back his can­di­dacy.

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