When the time came, it was quick and decisive. Jeremy Hanson was met with a surprise spill and lost the deputy leadership of the Canberra Liberals on Monday morning. But the manoeuvre had been brewing for a while. Mr Hanson's position as deputy had grown to be untenable, insiders say, because he had taken too many positions at odds with his leader, Elizabeth Lee. Mr Hanson backed a "no" vote in the Voice referendum. Mr Hanson backed federal intervention over the Calvary hospital takeover. The nail in the coffin? Mr Hanson backed a different ticket for the party's membership committee. A stint Mr Hanson spent as acting opposition leader, while Ms Lee was on maternity leave earlier this year, left a deep impression on his colleagues. For most, it wasn't a good one. Mr Hanson is seen within much of his party as yesterday's man. He led the Canberra Liberals to electoral defeat in 2016, lost a leadership ballot to Ms Lee in 2020 and has now been dumped as deputy leader. It's a tough record. The deputy leadership spill on Monday may prove to be therapeutic bloodletting for the party, but it comes with significant challenges, opening old and new wounds. Leanne Castley becomes the third deputy so far this term. Shaking off the arch conservative image in public is critical if the Liberals wish to have any chance of success at next year's election. The party must balance that work - which occurs at the brutal, ruthless end of political wizardry - with the need to come across as competent, experienced, united and electable. READ MORE: The Canberra Liberals chose an empty chair as party president at an annual general meeting last month. That process has been challenged, but the important thing to remember is the vote was close: 123 to 117. The party as a whole lacks an internal, coherent sense of itself, even if the spill vote was clearer, at five votes to three. The AGM result was hailed by party moderates and derided by conservatives. It was both a new beginning and a complete disaster, depending on who was talking. The conservatives have been put on notice. Rather than being left on scorched earth, the conservative forces have the chance to regroup. Mr Hanson's demotion is a setback rather than a settled score.