Pressure on Marise Payne to retire from Senate
Liberal Party moderates are agitating for former foreign affairs minister Marise Payne to retire from politics soon after the NSW state election, arguing the party needs an injection of fresh energy after last year’s crushing election defeat.
Speculation about Payne’s future has intensified after the death of Senate colleague Jim Molan, with potential candidates weighing up whether to compete for his vacant position or wait until Payne’s seat becomes available.
Former foreign minister Marise Payne has kept a low profile since the May election. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen
Sources within the party said internal pressure on Payne to retire would increase after the March 25 election, where her partner, state Liberal MP Stuart Ayres, faces a tough fight to retain his marginal seat of Penrith.
Payne, who is serving as shadow cabinet secretary, has kept a low profile since the May election, rarely appearing in the media or speaking in parliament.
Hansard records show Payne has spoken just six times in the Senate since Labor took office, significantly less than most of her colleagues. Her contributions included condolence motions for Queen Elizabeth II and former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.
“It’s a spot that’s not being fully utilised,” one Liberal MP said of Payne’s Senate position.
A NSW Liberal source connected to the moderate faction said: “The moderates are eager for forward momentum. People are angry she isn’t playing ball and communicating clearly about legacy.”
Several sources noted the moderate faction was reduced to a rump at the last election, making it important the remaining moderates in parliament were motivated to fight for their perspective to be heard.
“The party is about at ground zero, it needs fresh energy,” one source said.
Catholic Schools NSW chief executive and right faction powerbroker Dallas McInerney is the frontrunner to replace Molan, a venerated former Army general who died on Monday aged 72.
Former Wentworth MP Dave Sharma, who is usually associated with the moderate faction, has been discussed as a possible contender for the position.
One Liberal source said the jockeying over Molan’s Senate seat was “beyond offensive” given his funeral service has not yet been held. Payne declined to comment.
Liberal MPs continue to question the future of former prime minister Scott Morrison, who has remained in parliament as the member for Cook.
“Morrison is a weight around the neck of the party,” one Liberal MP said. “So long as he is still there, it’s hard for the party to move on.”
Several moderate sources said there had been a “general understanding” that both Payne and Molan would retire after the NSW election, clearing the way for McInerney to replace Molan and a moderate woman to replace Payne.
Payne was re-elected to a six-year term at the last election, meaning it is up to her to determine her future.
“I don’t think she’s any rush,” one Liberal source said, adding: “I think she’s going to want to anoint somebody as her successor.”
NSW Liberal sources said the likely candidates to replace Payne, if she were to retire, included former Reid MP Fiona Martin, who crossed the floor to vote against the Morrison government’s religious discrimination legislation.
Gisele Kapterian, a former Julie Bishop staffer and lawyer who missed out on preselection for Bennelong at the last poll has also been discussed, as has NSW Liberal Party president Maria Kovacic, who unsuccessfully ran for Parramatta at the last election.
Jane Buncle, a barrister who was in the running for Warringah, has told associates in the party she did not intend to run for either Molan or Payne’s Senate seat.
Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.
Most Viewed in Politics
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article