Female executive a favourite for Victorian Senate

Primrose Riordan

14 January 2016

The Australian Financial Review

Victoria’s all-male Liberal Senate team could be facing a shake up: AustralianSuper adviser Jane Hume has emerged as a favourite to replace outgoing Senator Michael Ronaldson.

Freedom and Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson’s decision to bow out of the race on Tuesday is “building momentum” for an all-female ticket at the 2016 election, say Liberal MPs, and could help Ms Hume take the top slot.

Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer’s chief of staff Julian Sheezel, who was thought to be in with a chance, also pulled out of the race last week.

“Before Tim quit [Ms Hume] had a good chance, now she has an even better chance,” a Liberal source said. “Jane’s got friends across the party”.

To have the best chance of winning and becoming a senator, candidates must be in the top two spots. National Senator Bridget McKenzie will retain the number two position. Senior party sources said Ms Hume is supported by Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg, Wannon MP Dan Tehan, and Deakin MP Michael Sukkar.

One Liberal MP said: “Jane Hume is strongly favoured to win the first spot. Jane has cross-party support”.

“I think it’s time we walk the talk and had more women,” said another MP supporting Ms Hume.

Institute of Public Affairs deputy director James Paterson, 28, is also running for the number one spot, and his supporters say he has the backing of at least two Liberal ministers.

Mr Paterson has told party selectors his media and fundraising experience would allow him to start campaigning as soon as possible in a busy election year.

Ms Hume’s supporters hoped for an all-female Senate ticket, and to slot Glen Eira City Council Deputy Mayor Karina Okotel into the third spot, which some in the party view as winnable.

That spot is also likely to be contested by a former Liberal candidate for Frankston, Sean Armistead.

Nominations close on January 25 and Liberal members will vote on March 6.