Media reports have inaccurately reflected the FACTS surrounding Liberal Senate preselection events in 2016.

For the impending 2016 election, according to the then agreement with the National Party, the winnable positions on the Coalition ticket were no. 1 and no 2. for the Liberals and no. 3 for the Nationals.

On 19 March 2016, a preselection was held for a half-Senate election. I won the preselection 50 to 49 with 1 abstention. The State Director incorrectly ruled that it was not 50% plus 1 and ordered a re-ballot.

After the break and the usual factional thuggery, Hollie Hughes got 51 votes and I got 48 votes with 1 abstention.

The State Director’s interpretation of the first ballot was wrong. State Executive reversed the order to reflect my successful first ballot to win the preselection.

This situation was similar to that which was experienced at the North Shore selection on 12 November 2018 and which was the subject of the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of James v Wilson on 29 January 2019.

Then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called a double dissolution election on 8 May 2016 for an election on 2 July 2016. As a consequence, the ballot for the half-Senate election was rendered void.

The order of the Coalition Senate team for the double-dissolution was then determined by the NSW Division based on seniority as follows:

  1. Marise Payne (Liberal/Cabinet Minister)
  2. Arthur Sinodinos (Liberal/Cabinet Minister)
  3. Fiona Nash (National/Cabinet Minister)
  4. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal/Minister)
  5. John Williams (National/Senator)
  6. Hollie Hughes (LiberaL/Candidate)
  7. Jim Molan (Liberal/Candidate)

Social media commentary at that time, including by Ms Hughes, reflected negativity about this outcome. Given the content, I and my staff raised concerns with the Federal Liberal Director. Noting Ms Hughes was in an unwinnable position, I chose not to pursue the matter and agreed with the Federal Director not to take appropriate action against her.

Hence, media reports in recent days that Scott Morrison intervened to “save” me are incorrect.

31 March 2022

[ends]