Nationals section 44

For all the damage inflicted by the Nationals on the government by their failure to fill out nomination forms accurately, there’s a positive outcome for the Liberals. NSW senator Fiona Nash is gone, and she’ll be replaced with a Liberal, Hollie Hughes.

Hughes should have been in the Senate last July, but gave up her spot on the Coalition ticket at the insistence of the Prime Minister, to ensure Concetta Fierravanti-Wells got fourth spot on the ticket. Hughes had already dislodged Fierravanti-Wells at the top of the half-senate ticket prior to a double dissolution election being called.

Nash is no great loss, except to yet again demonstrate how rare women are in Coalition ranks; she has been running a regional portfolio cobbled together from bits of the infrastructure and communications departments, and is chiefly known for trying to pass herself off as “acting Deputy Prime Minister” while the PM was out of the country. Hughes, from Moree, will be a valuable addition both to the Senate and to the Liberal Party — she’s worked in communications and consulting, and is chair of the Country Autism Network, which she founded, and knows first-hand the challenges of accessing disability services in regional communities through her experience with her son Fred. She’s also a long-time NSW Liberal executive member untainted by some of the rubbish that her colleagues-to-be have been involved in.

As for the Nationals aggrieved at losing a senate and ministerial spot, it’s no one’s fault but their own. “The only reason you are in government is because the National Party held all their seats and won one,” Barnaby Joyce whined at the Liberals on the weekend. And the only reason you were in government was because of the Liberals, Barnaby. And you and your deputy blew it. Fortunately there’s a silver lining for the Liberals.