One of South Australia’s most senior Liberals has backed Senator Lucy Gichuhi for the third spot on the party’s Senate ticket ahead of Adelaide City Councillor Alex Antic.
- Senator Simon Birmingham said he would support Lucy Gichuhi for third place on the ticket
- The ABC reported that spot has been called into question
- The right-faction of the party reportedly want Adelaide City Councillor Alex Antic in that spot
Yesterday the ABC revealed Mr Antic — who is seeking preselection for the first time — could be put above the Kenyan-born Senator on the Senate ticket amid a push from the right-faction.
There have also been reports that Senator Anne Ruston’s number one place on the ticket could be at risk — although the ABC has spoken to a number of sources who believe she is safe.
But today, Senator Simon Birmingham said he would support Senator Ruston for the number one position, Senator David Fawcett for number two and Senator Gichuhi at number three.
“Lucy is somebody who brings strong family values,” Senator Birmingham told Radio Adelaide.
“… I think party members have been enjoying getting to know Lucy and I hope the added diversity and value she brings to the partyroom will be able to continue after the election.”
Both Senator Gichuhi — who joined the Liberals in February after entering Parliament as a Family First Senator in 2017 — and Mr Antic are in the party’s conservative faction, while Senator Birmingham is a moderate.
Only the top three ballot positions are considered winnable.
Lucy Gichuhi defected from Family First to the Liberal Party in February this year, making the shock announcement alongside Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
At the time he described her as an “inspiration” and a “true Australian success story”.
Lack of women down to nominations
Senator Birmingham blamed the lack of women in Parliament on too few nominating for preselection.
They had “a lack of willingness to participate in other parts of party leadership”, which meant they then did not believe they had the experience to stand for election, he said.
Labor Senator Penny Wong responded, saying the lack of support for Liberal MPs by senior party members was behind the low level of Coalition female representation in Federal Parliament.
“There’s a broader issue here — Simon [Birmingham] talks about hope and trust but I think women in the Liberal Party can’t hope and trust for much support,” she said.
“… I think there’s a fairly clear pattern of behaviour here.”
Senator Wong said “the culture and the sorts of messages given to women” needed to change in the Coalition and also also made mention of “rumours” Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston may not be given the top spot on the Liberal Party’s Senate ballot.
However, Senator Birmingham said Conservative Georgina Downer was preselected on Monday to run for the Liberals in the South Australian seat of Mayo.
The next federal election is due to be held by November 2019.