Jane Hume’s future had been in doubt after a conservative takeover in Victoria. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has used his authority to end an impasse over preselections in Victoria and ensure senators James Paterson and Jane Hume are re-endorsed.
The senators had expected their preselections to be finalised 18 months ago but a conservative takeover in Victoria complicated the process and put Senator Hume’s future, in particular, in doubt.
The ABC understands Mr Morrison intervened almost immediately after taking over the top job and, together with his deputy and senior Victorian Liberal Josh Frydenberg, told the state’s Liberal president Michael Kroger to endorse the pair.
Victoria’s administrative committee followed Mr Morrison’s directive when it met, and has put Senators Paterson and Hume at the top of the state’s Upper House ticket.
Powerbroker pair step down
In another twist, conservative Victorian powerbroker Marcus Bastiaan has announced he and his wife, Stephanie Ross, will be stepping down from senior positions within the party due to family reasons.
Marcus Bastiaan has announced he and his wife, Stephanie Ross, will be stepping down from senior positions within the Liberal Party. (ABC News: Four Corners)
Mr Bastiaan is a key backer of Mr Kroger’s who has been accused by moderates of recruiting Mormons and Christian groups to branches across the state.
Some observers believed his ascension to the vice-presidency changed the dynamic of the Victorian branch and put the preselection of moderate candidates at risk.
In the midst of this power-play, Senators Paterson and Hume have spent months attending every branch meeting and party function across the state, building support for their preselection bids.
While prime ministers often stay out of preselections, Mr Morrison would have been keen to end a potentially damaging factional row endangering the political future of one of the few Liberal women in his ranks.
Before losing the top job, Malcolm Turnbull intervened to save the political career of New South Wales Liberal Ann Sudmalis following the shock preselection defeat of Jane Prentice in Queensland.
Mr Turnbull had also been putting pressure on the Victorian branch to settle its candidates, so the party was ready to fight an election early next year.