'Formidable woman' to fill Jim Molan's Senate vacancy
A "formidable woman" and former president of the NSW Liberal Party will fill the Senate vacancy left by Jim Molan, who died of prostate cancer in January.
Maria Kovacic, who resigned from her official party position to run for the NSW Senate seat, defeated her closest challenger Andrew Constance, a former NSW cabinet minister.
"Maria Kovacic is a formidable woman and a fitting replacement for the late, great Major General Jim Molan," federal Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley said on Saturday.
Ms Ley said the addition of another woman to the Liberal ranks in federal parliament would help rectify a gender imbalance.
"One of my key priorities has been to get more women elected into our party room as quickly as possible," she said.
Ms Kovacic, a businesswoman from Western Sydney, is known in her community and has more than 20 years of experience in the commercial, public and not-for-profit sectors.
She co-founded Western Sydney Women and Western Sydney Executive Women and served on the Parramatta Eels' NRLW Advisory Committee and steering committee for Women@Eels.
Ms Kovacic, who ran a mortgage and finance business for 16 years, paid tribute to the late senator Molan, saying it was an honour to be preselected to follow in his footsteps and hold the Labor government to account.
"The spiralling cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on families right across the city and the state," she said in a statement.
"Labor promised cheaper mortgages, but instead Australia's core inflation is now higher than every major advanced economy and there have been 10 interest rate rises in Labor's first 12 months."
Ms Ley played up Ms Kovacic's credentials as a businesswoman, saying she understands what it was to "take a risk, to employ staff, and to manage the challenges of running your own enterprise".
"By bringing this real-world experience in small business and community service to Canberra, Maria will be a strong addition to our federal Liberal team," she said.
Liberal Party members voted to preselect Ms Kovacic at a meeting at a hotel in the Sydney CBD on Saturday.
Ms Kovacic ran for the lower house seat of Parramatta in the last federal election but was defeated by Labor's Andrew Charlton.
Mr Constance also made a failed bid for federal parliament, running for the seat of Gilmore, which was narrowly retained by Labor's Fiona Phillips.
Ms Kovacic's preselection will need to be endorsed by the NSW Parliament before she can take her seat in the Senate.