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Victorian Liberal president Michael Kroger says Prime Minister is to blame for the Coalition’s poor performance in the election. Photo: Justin McManus Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger: “There should be no private donations over $1000 … nothing that brings up questions about votes being bought.” Photo: Justin McManus
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Coalition takes the lead in cliffhanger seatsAnalysis: Delicate balance needed from both leadersElection 2016: news, analysis and video

Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger has sheeted the blame for the government’s disappointing election result to the Prime Minister and his Treasurer, citing a lack of “economic leadership in the country” as one of the key reasons the party failed at the polls.

Mr Kroger also pointed to a period of policy confusion between last September and May when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison floated potential changes to the GST, the ability of the states to raise their own taxes, negative gearing, capital gains tax and superannuation.

Amid the period of policy confusion, Mr Turnbull took to Facebook to publicly deny a Fairfax Media report that he was killing Abbott government’s Tax White Paper, and then five months later killed the Tax White Paper.

“It was a period of absolute confusion for business and for voters,” said one senior Victorian Liberal on Saturday.

Speaking on Melbourne gay and lesbian radio station Joy 94.9 on Saturday, Mr Kroger blamed the government’s back-flipping on policies for its electoral failure.

“In that period when we were putting things on and off the table and the electorate formed the opinion, ‘well if you fellas, if you people, don’t know what [you] are doing, that’s a problem’,” he said.

Mr Kroger said backflips on the GST, in particular, hurt the government at the polls. “The electorate got a view that we didn’t have a clear idea of where we wanted to take the country in terms of the economy.”

Asked by host David McCarthy if the party had “lost the campaign”, Mr Kroger said “it is not the campaign that people should focus on, it’s what happened on the period September to May”.

In September last year Tony Abbott lost the prime ministership to Mr Turnbull.

Mr Kroger said the polls showed the Liberal Party had 56 per cent of the vote “when Malcolm came in” and that had fallen to just 49 per cent by the time the election campaign started.

“So it is not the campaign, it is this period September to May, and unfortunately, in that period, we didn’t take the opportunity to take control of the economic leadership in the country,” Mr Kroger said.

“The Liberal Party’s number one brand equity, the reason people vote for the Liberal Party, is because we have a long and distinguished history of being better economic managers than Labor, and that’s what the public think.”

Mr Kroger suggested the government, through its repeated policy backflips, had lost that trust of traditional Liberal voters.

“Political parties have to take responsibility for their own performance,” he said. “The results slid dramatically from a 56-44 result, where we were 12 per cent in front to one where we are either 1 per cent behind or to level. Something happened, something dramatic happened, it wasn’t an accident, something dramatic happened.”

Malcolm Turnbull now looks likely to form government, either in his own right or with the support of three independents: Queensland’s Bob Katter, Victorian Cathy McGowan and Tasmanian Andrew Wilkie.

But the shock result has seen the Coalition face massive loses.

Mr Turnbull has accepted “full responsibility” for the campaign, but has defended his strategy.

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