Senator Richard Colbeck (centre), Tanya Denison (left) and Claire Chandler (right) will be running for the Senate. (ABC News: Henry Zwartz)
Tasmania may have its first female Liberal representative in Parliament since 1986 after former Tasmanian Young Liberals president Claire Chandler got second spot on the Senate ticket.
- Ms Chandler said she was “honoured” to attain second spot on the ticket and said it signified “renewal” within the party
- Election analyst Kevin Bonham said the Liberals should secure seats for their first two Senate candidates
- Mr Bonham said Labor was also a chance of securing three
Senator Richard Colbeck was nominated first spot on the ticket, with Hobart Councilor Tanya Denison third, in a move dubbed a “renewal” by party faithful.
Senator Colbeck had been recommended for lead position on the ticket by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Premier Will Hodgman and other senior federal Liberals including Mathias Cormann, Marise Payne, Peter Dutton and Simon Birmingham.
“The fact that I had strong backing from my federal and state Liberal colleagues was just a clear demonstration of the relationships across the party,” Senator Colbeck said.
“The Prime Minister wants us to demonstrate that we are a team working together.”
He is the only sitting Tasmanian Liberal up for re-election in 2019.
Senator Colbeck lost his seat at the 2016 double dissolution election after being dropped to fifth on the ticket by preselectors, but regained it on a countback following the resignation of former Senate president Stephen Parry over citizenship.
Earlier this week Liberal sources indicated to the ABC that it was likely that either Ms Chandler or former Liberal party senior vice-president Wendy Summers would be placed either one or two on the ticket.
Ms Chandler said she was “honoured” to attain second spot on the ticket and said it signified “renewal” within the party to appeal to younger voters and help tackle gender inequality.
“I think the party has recognised quite extensively over the last couple of years that we have some work to do in terms of better engaging with women, and I’m very happy with the result today as a testament of the efforts our party has gone to, to engage better with women,” she said after finding out her position on the ticket.
“It’s a very exciting time to be a member of the Tasmanian Liberal Party.”
Ms Chandler, who has worked as an analyst at Deloitte and studied Law at the University of Tasmania, led an internal review of the Tasmanian party’s gender imbalance last year, finding the ratio of women to men within the party “sobering”.
Ms Chandler said allegations of bullying by senior Liberal figures should be investigated.
“I think that if there are certain behaviours occurring at the federal level … those should be examined, whether that’s through an internal process or some other process, I think that’s something that should be considered, because we want our Parliament to be a place of robust debate where we can feel free to express our ideas.”
Senator Colbeck regained his Senate seat this year after Stephen Parry was forced to resign. (ABC News: Jed Cooper)
Liberals ‘should secure seats for first two candidates’
The move to install a woman in a winnable position on the ticket makes Ms Chandler likely to be the first Liberal woman elected to federal parliament from Tasmania since Jocelyn Newman in 1986.
Ms Newman was one of just three women to have been elected to represent Tasmania for the Liberal Party in federal parliament, alongside Dame Enid Lyons in 1943 and Shirley Walters in 1975.
Party elder senator Eric Abetz said he “welcomed” the result.
“It’s absolutely exciting,” Senator Abetz said.
“The experience of Richard Colbeck and regeneration, and most importantly a young woman in Claire Chandler, in the exceptionally winnable position of number two.”
His Liberal colleague, senator David Bushby, said he looked forward to working with the three.
“I look forward to supporting the Senate team going into the next election,” he said, “[and] working with them for the benefit of all Tasmanians”.
State Liberal president Geoff Page said the party needed to have a diverse range of candidates to challenge the Labor Party in the next federal election.
“It is particularly pleasing to see two very capable women on our ticket,” he said.
Election analyst Kevin Bonham said the Liberals should secure seats for their first two Senate candidates, and could potentially claim a third.
“The Liberals should be able to get two senators elected from Tasmania easily. The question mark is over the third one which will be quite difficult,” Mr Bonham said.
“There is a strong push for them to have a female candidate in the top two spots to address their problems with gender equity and Tasmanian representation.”
Mr Bonham said Labor was also a chance of securing three.
“I think the last seat is quite likely to be a battle between Labor, possibly the Liberals, and possibly Jacquie Lambie,” Mr Bonham said.
Also on Saturday, popular Tasmanian Labor senator Lisa Singh was again dropped to what is considered to be an unwinnable spot on the ALP’s Senate ticket.