Scott Morrison’s preferred candidate Jim Molan will re-enter the Senate after being selected to fill the New South Wales vacancy on Sunday.
Molan, who enraged Coalition partner the Nationals with his below-the-line insurgent bid for re-election in May, beat former Liberal party state director Richard Shields 321 votes to 260 in the ballot to replace Arthur Sinodinos.
Molan, a conservative who was one of the architects of Australia’s harsh policies to deter refugees coming to Australia by boat, entered the Senate in early 2018 after replacing the Nationals’ Fiona Nash, who was disqualified for dual citizenship.
Senator Sarah Henderson short remark message on tweeter
@JimMolan is a true warrior for @LiberalAus values and for the Australian people. Proud to have endorsed him for preselection and delighted he will be returning to the @AuSenate.
Scott Buchholz MP tweeter congratulatory message to jim Molan
Congratulations to @JimMolan on his senate preselection. A great Australian who has served his country honourably and will continue to do so from the senate. 🇦🇺 Best wishes to @A_Sinodinos for his future and we thank him for his incredible contribution to NSW and the nation.
Molan was relegated to the unwinnable fourth position before the 2019 election but urged his supporters to vote below the line in a bid to leapfrog the Nationals’ Senate candidate, Perin Davey.
The insurgent bid prompted the NSW Nationals chairman, Bede Burke, to warn he had broken the Coalition agreement and “seriously [harmed] the chances of a Nationals senator being elected” and Liberal colleague Trent Zimmerman branded the move “dishonourable”.
Molan received 137,325 first preference votes – 20% of a quota – but failed in his bid for re-election, with Liberals Andrew Bragg, Hollie Hughes and Davey elected ahead of him due to 1.6m ticket votes for the Coalition.
Molan will re-enter the Senate for the final two years of Sinodinos’ six-year term, meaning he is up for re-election again in 2022 at the same time as the foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, a moderate, and the conservative Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.