28 May 2023

Andrew Constance loses out on Senate tilt as Liberals select previous state president

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Andrew Constance on Malua Bay Beach

Andrew Constance has lost another chance to enter federal politics. Photo: Kim Treasure.

Andrew Constance won’t succeed Jim Molan in his NSW Senate seat after the Liberal Party chose former state president Maria Kovacic for the role on Saturday (27 May).

Liberal party members met in Sydney to determine Senator Molan’s replacement after his death in January following a battle with cancer. Section 15 of the Australian constitution states that when a casual vacancy (because of the resignation or death of a sitting senator) occurs, their replacement is chosen by the parliament of the state which that senator represented.

The replacement process for Senator Molan was then delayed by the NSW state election.

Mr Constance had positioned himself as a regional candidate, following dismal results for the Liberals in the state election, where a number of seats in southeastern NSW swung strongly to Labor.

However he lost the vote 266-243 to Ms Kovacic, who previously ran unsuccessfully for the seat of Parramatta in the 2022 federal election.

She was predicted to benefit from a strong desire from moderates to see a woman in the role and was also a favourite because of her strong roots in western Sydney, an area that fell hard to Labor in the March state election.

The perception that the party was both returning to a centrist course and attempting to address its gender imbalance was reinforced by federal deputy leader Sussan Ley, who described Ms Kovacic as “a formidable woman and a fitting replacement for the late, great Major General Jim Molan”.

Ms Ley said one of her key priorities had been to get more women elected into our party room as quickly as possible, adding that the addition of another woman to the Liberal ranks in federal parliament would assist in rectifying the party’s gender imbalance.

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Senator Molan was part of the centre right, along with former prime minister Scott Morrison and former frontbencher Julian Leeser (who stood down in order to support the Voice to Parliament Yes campaign).

Mr Constance, also notionally on the right but perceived as a moderate, was nevertheless an outspoken critic of the prime minister during the Black Summer bushfires and stood aside to contest the federal seat of Gilmore after being considered a possibility for NSW party leadership.

However, he lost Gilmore to Labor’s Fiona Phillips and has since been biding his time, listing his employment status on LinkedIn as “self-employed analyst”.

Mr Constance was also previously involved in a brutal spat for the federal seat of Eden Monaro after long serving Labor Member Mike Kelly announced his resignation, prompting a by-election. While Mr Constance and then NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro brawled over the seat, former Bega mayor Kristy McBain took it for Labor and held it with an increased margin at the 2022 federal election.

Ms Kovacic is a businesswoman from western Sydney and ran a mortgage and finance business for almost two decades. She founded several business organisations and served on the Parramatta Eels’ NRLW advisory committee and steering committee for Women@Eels.

She’s nominated cost of living and its impact on families and small businesses as her key priorities.

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Andrew’s ambition far exceeded his ability as a Politician.
I hope he now realises that he does not automatically get a seat in Parliament, any Parliament will do it seems, just because he wants it and looks for something different to do.
I, for one, hope not to see his name on any ballot paper in the future.

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