Leading No campaigner Warren Mundine urged to run for NSW Senate vacancy

The head of one of the major campaigns against the Voice, Warren Mundine, is being urged by some conservatives in the Liberal Party to replace the late Jim Molan in the Senate amid a factional fight over the spot.

The emergence of Mundine as a potential candidate for the party’s Right faction may complicate former NSW transport minister and treasurer Andrew Constance’s tilt for the Senate vacancy.

Warren Mundine’s name has been put forward by some conservatives in the party.

Alex Ellinghausen

A number of Liberal Moderates including Constance and former federal MP Fiona Scott want the spot, even though the vacancy would ordinarily go to the Right.

Constance is putting his name forward under a possible deal which would see him give up the spot in 18 months and run for the lower house seat of Gilmore for a second time.

But there are mixed views within both factions over how this would be viewed by voters.

Multiple sources from the Right faction, who are not authorised to speak publicly, confirmed they had instead put forward the names of Mundine and former NSW upper house president Matthew Mason-Cox as possible candidates.

The timing would be awkward for Mundine, a Bundjalung man who is a leading campaigner against the referendum for the Indigenous Voice to parliament as the head of the Recognise a Better Way campaign.

Mundine is a former national president of the ALP, but quit the party in 2012 and ran as the Liberal candidate for Gilmore at the 2019 election.

Asked whether he would be a candidate for the Senate vacancy, Mundine said: “I just have no comment at this stage.”

Molan would ordinarily be replaced by a member of his Right faction, and earlier this year it appeared that Catholic Schools NSW chief executive Dallas McInerney was the frontrunner to fill the vacancy.

But McInerney wrote to NSW Liberal Party president Maria Kovacic on Friday saying he would be tied up with his work in education over the next 18 months and was ruling himself out.

In his letter, McInerney said the next election will be “decided in the regions, not Rose Bay, and our representatives must reflect this electoral imperative”, which suggested that he backed the NSW South Coast-based Constance to fill the vacancy.

Some members of the Right and Moderates are pushing the Constance option on the basis that it is the party’s best chance of winning Gilmore at the next election.

Constance was unsuccessful in his tilt at Gilmore last year – losing by just 373 votes – although he convincingly beat Labor on first preferences.

Andrew Constance and Fiona Scott will likely be candidates for the Moderates.

Sydney Morning Herald

He last week refused to rule out putting his name forward for the Senate spot.

“There’s nominations opening soon and I will have some more to say about that,” he told Sky News.

When asked whether that was a “yes”, Constance said: “It does sound like a yes”.

Scott, the former Member for Lindsay who has long been touted as a replacement for ex-foreign affairs minister Marise Payne, is also considering running for the vacancy.

Asked whether she would nominate, Scott said: “I’m considering my options.”

Other candidates from the Moderate faction potentially include former Wentworth MP David Sharma, former ministerial staffer Gisele Kapterian, former state party vice president Mary-Lou Jarvis and Space Industry Association of Australia chief executive James Brown.

With elements of the Moderates and Right likely to split, former prime minister Scott Morrison’s faction, the Centre Right, could be a deciding factor in the vote.

Some Moderates were previously agitating for Payne to retire after the NSW state election, but sources say the campaign backfired because it resulted in the former government frontbencher digging in.

Stuart Ayres and Marise Payne arrive at a Liberal drinks function after the NSW election.

Flavio Brancaleone

Payne’s partner Stuart Ayres lost his state seat of Penrith at the NSW election last weekend.

But Payne is intent on remaining in federal parliament, reminding people in recent days she was re-elected for a six-year term at last year’s election.

Molan died in January aged 72 after a short battle with prostate cancer.

The process to replace Molan was put on hold because of the NSW election and it is now not expected to be finalised until May.

There is also jostling taking place over who will become the next state director of the NSW Liberals, with incumbent Chris Stone announcing he will step down from the role in the coming weeks.

Yaron Finkelstein, who was a senior advisor to former prime minister Scott Morrison and premier Dominic Perrottet, is rumoured to want the state director role, but that is already being met with opposition from some senior members in the party.

Luke Nayna, a former staffer for indigenous affairs minister Ken Wyatt, is expected to be a candidate for the position.

Deputy federal director Simon Berger and former deputy Victorian director Tony Barry have also been discussed as possible candidates.

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

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