Baillieu misses out and Wooldridge still without seat

Ted Baillieu
Ted Baillieu

FORMER premier Ted Baillieu wasn’t called back to cabinet yesterday.

On the topic of Mr Baillieu’s future, Premier Denise Napthine said he was a close friend who had a very good track record.

“Ted certainly wants to continue to be part of the team,” Dr Napthine said.

And Dr Napthine’s reshuffle failed to resolve one of his biggest headaches: what to do about Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge.

Ms Wooldridge has been left without a seat to contest the state election after a redrawing of electoral boundaries.

Liberal Party sources in Melbourne said a decision not to reappoint Mr Baillieu to the frontbench was a signal he needed to reconsider staying in his Hawthorn seat while Ms Wooldridge hasn’t got a seat to run for.

In a blow to Dr Napthine’s authority, Ms Wooldridge was defeated in a pre-selection battle for the plum seat of Kew this month, stoking tensions within Liberal Party circles and raising accusations of dirty tricks within the party.

Yesterday Dr Napthine evaded questions about Ms Wooldridge’s future, whether a spot had been identified for her to run for and when a decision would be made.

Nominations for Liberal pre-selection for the upper house close next week, with an Eastern Metro upper house spot electorate seen as the best fit for Ms Wooldridge.

The new ministers replace four MPs who will not contest the election.

Former Geelong footballer and Fremantle coach Damian Drum was appointed Minister for Sports and Veterans Affairs, replacing Hugh Delahunty.

He is a member for the Northern Victoria region which includes Wodonga, Wangaratta and the North East.

New Liberals ministers are Nick Wakeling (higher education and skills) and Inga Peulich, who becomes cabinet secretary in place of Mr Wakeling.

Mr Wakeling replaces National MP Peter Hall.