Matthew Guy, who led the Victorian Liberals to an election thrashing in 2018, is again party leader after toppling Michael O’Brien in a leadership coup.
MPs voted 20 to 11 for a leadership spill at a party room meeting on Tuesday morning.
Mr Guy was then elected unopposed as leader.
Member for Caulfield David Southwick was then elected as Mr Guy’s deputy.
“Firstly, I want to say my thoughts immediately on this day are with all of those people on the frontline working to manage our COVID response here in Victoria, people like my wife and all those other people like myself who yesterday were homeschooling,” Mr Guy told reporters following the vote.
“All those small business people who can’t open, and are doing it very very tough today.
“We will have clear alternatives for Victorians will begin to articulate today. A plan, not just for lockdowns but for recovery.
“Victoria’s best days are ahead of it not behind it.”
The returned leader arrived at the party room meeting flanked by key supporters including MPs Tim Smith, James Newbury, Bev McArthur, Richard Riordan and Bill Tilley.
The 47-year-old former opposition leader and member for Bulleen resigned after a disastrous loss in the 2018 state election, which saw the party shed 10 of its 37 seats in the lower house.
He was replaced by Mr O’Brien, who has faced sustained criticism for failing to land political blows on Premier Daniel Andrews and his Labor government during the pandemic.
“Can I just congratulate Matthew Guy on his election as Liberal Party leader,” Mr O’Brien told reporters.
“Now is the time for all Liberals to get behind the Liberal leadership. I think that every Liberal leader deserves support and Matthew deserves it no less than anyone else.”
Mr O’Brien also thanked Victorians for his three years as opposition leader.
“I’ve had an opportunity to be in your living rooms, in your radios, in your newspapers,” he said.
When I’ve spoken, you haven’t always necessarily liked what I’ve said – maybe you’ve agreed and maybe you haven’t.
“But it’s been such a privilege to be able to have that conversation with Victorians because I love this state.”