Liberal Senator Ben Small
Liberal Senator Ben Small (Image: AAP)

Mathias Cormann’s replacement in the Senate has been described as an “ordinary citizen” from “small beginnings”, a bar owner with no experience in politics who unexpectedly found himself in Canberra.

But beneath the wave of PR spin that welcomed Senator Ben Small’s appointment to Parliament is a savvy political operator who has spent considerable time working his way up in the Liberal Party while also being employed at one of Australia’s most powerful companies, oil and gas giant Woodside. 

Woodside is one of the biggest corporate donors to the Coalition, contributing almost $200,000 to Liberal and National Party coffers last financial year, and the company has benefitted from a range of government policies including an $8.8 million grant to help advise the government on how to clean up its own abandoned vessel in the Timor Sea.