Jim Molan meets with Danny Lim at a pre-poll booth in Epping, during the Bennelong by-election on Friday 15 December 2017. fedpol Photo: Alex EllinghausenRetired major-general and Royalla resident Jim Molan will take his seat in the Senate in 2018, after the High Court declared he had been duly elected to represent NSW on Friday.
The author of the Abbott government’s hardline boat turnback policy and former commander of allied troops in Iraq ran in the unwinnable seventh place on the Coalition’s NSW senate ticket at the 2016 election – winning more than 10,000 first preference votes.
After months of uncertainty over his rise to Parliament, Mr Molan will replace former Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash after she was disqualified as part of the dual citizenship saga.
Mr Molan – who lives on a rural property in Royalla, near the ACT-NSW border – will take a three-year term, with International Development Minister and NSW Liberal Concetta Fierravanti-Wells taking Ms Nash’s six-year term following the double dissolution election.
High Court judge Stephen Gageler declared Mr Molan “duly elected” in Friday’s decision.
“There should be no lingering uncertainty, and it is in the public interest that that issue be resolved as soon as possible,” he said on Friday in the High Court in Sydney.
“There should be no lingering uncertainty and it is in the public interest that that issue be resolved as soon as possible.”
Justice Gageler said he did not believe it was necessary for him to take a view on the duration of Mr Molan’s term.
“If a person with a sufficient interest to raise such an issue does so by formal process then that is something that can be addressed if necessary in response to that process,” he said.
Liberal Hollie Hughes had been set to take the seat but the High Court ruled she was not eligible to replace Ms Nash after being appointed by the government to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal following her election loss.
Conservative allies welcomed Mr Molan’s elevation, coming after he flirted with running in the onetime bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro this year.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott previously described his election loss a “tragedy for our country” and the Liberal Party.
“Jim Molan was a fine soldier and a successful general and is now the foremost campaigner for democratic reform of the NSW Liberal Party,” Mr Abbott said on Friday.
“He will bring the discipline, loyalty and team spirit of our armed forces into the parliament and the party room,” Mr Abbott tweeted.
Former minister Eric Abetz said he looked forward to working with Mr Molan.
“His depth of experience, service to our nation and keen intellect will stand him in eminent stead to take on the role and in addition to those qualities, he is an all-round good and decent person.
“His election will provide even extra impetus to the overwhelming and irresistible push to democratise the NSW Liberal Party,” he said.