Matthew Guy’s concession speech has been widely hailed as “gracious” but one former senior shadow cabinet member has revealed the “intense” animosity between the Premier and his defeated opponent.
The Premier has delivered Labor an historic third term, coming just the second person to the lead the party to three election victories.
While the government suffered more than a 6 per cent swing against it in primary vote, the Liberal Party failed to gain ground in much-needed target seats forcing Mr Guy to make his second concession speech in four years.
The Liberal leader delayed the speech and a customary phone call to Mr Andrews until almost 11pm and made little reference to the triumphant Premier apart from urging the government to employ a “change of style”.
Mr Smith, a former key Guy ally and retiring MP for Kew, said there was no love lost between the two leaders.
“There’s plenty of Labor people and vice versa that we all have good relationships with and there’s equally Labor people we have very bad relationships with,” Mr Smith said on Englishheadline Australia’s election coverage on Saturday night.
“The Premier and Matthew really dislike each other quite intensely.”
Englishheadline Australia host Peta Credlin accepted the outgoing MP’s characterisation but said Mr Guy had been gracious in defeat.
“He did say he rang him, he called him the Premier, there was no dismissive tone in any of that,” Credlin said.
While Labor has secured at least 51 seats – down from an historic 55 in the last election – all eyes turn to the fate of the Liberal Party and its defeated leader.
Mr Guy’s second attempt at returning the party to power has again ended in a catastrophic defeat for the conservative side of politics.
The Liberal Party failed to make grounds and win back seats it lost in the 2018 “Dan-slide”, while losing a further two – Bayswater and Glen Waverly – in the city’s eastern suburbs.
Speculation has already begun as to Mr Guy’s future and whether he will stay on as leader after failing to make any indication in his concession speech.
Mr Smith predicted the Liberal leader will likely leave but remain on as the member for Bulleen.
“Obviously his future is a matter for him, but knowing him as I do, I can’t imagine he’ll be wanting to hang around as leader,” Mr Smith said.
“Whether he wants to remain as the member for Bulleen I suspect he will for a while.”
The Liberal Party also looked set to lose more seats on Saturday night, but pre-polls and postal votes dumped on Sunday morning has seen the Coalition hang on in some tight electorates.
Mornington looked all but gone to teal independent Kate Lardner, but former Federal MP Chris Crewther has clawed back a lead with a razor-thin margin of less than 180 votes.
The previously blue-ribbon seat of Hawthorn – which was one of Labor’s biggest shock victories in 2018 – was a two-horse race between former Liberal member for the seat John Pesutto and another teal independent Melissa Lowe.
Ms Lowe was up by more than 500 votes on Saturday night, but the drop of postal votes on Sunday morning – which traditionally favour the Liberal Party – has seen Mr Pesutto jump to a lead of more than 380 votes.
The former Liberal MP has been touted by some as a future successor to Mr Guy.