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Australia Kevin Andrews toppled in preselection battle for Menzies

10:05  31 january  2021
10:05  31 january  2021 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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Veteran Liberal MP Kevin Andrews , a former defence minister and the longest-serving member of Federal Parliament, has become the first federal Liberal since 1990 to be unseated in a party preselection in Victoria. Former special forces captain and Cambridge-educated barrister Keith Wolahan toppled the 65-year-old social conservative in a vote to decide the party’s candidate for the blue-ribbon Melbourne seat of Menzies on Sunday. Keith Wolahan (centre) in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in February 2010. Mr Wolahan, 43, comfortably beat Mr Andrews with 181 votes to 111.

Mr Andrews had been backed by senior MPs including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and the defeat is being viewed by some Liberals as a rejection of their tactics. He also had the support of former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott. Mr Andrews is the first sitting Victorian Liberal MP to be Mr Wolahan has been waiting in the wings of Menzies for several years. Senior figures say he would have challenged in 2016 but, in that year, all preselections for Liberal-held seats were done by the party's administrative committee. There are also implications for the next round of state preselections , with

A file photograph of Kevin Andrews. © AAP A file photograph of Kevin Andrews.

Liberal MP Kevin Andrews, the former defence minister known for his social conservatism and the longest-serving member of Federal Parliament, has become the first federal Liberal since 1990 to be unseated in a party preselection in Victoria.

Former special forces captain and Cambridge-educated barrister Keith Wolahan toppled the 65-year-old parliamentarian in a vote to decide the party's candidate for the sought-after Melbourne seat of Menzies on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Wolahan comfortably beat Mr Andrews with 181 votes to 111.

Standing alongside Treasurer Josh Frydenberg following the preselection battle, Mr Wolahan said it was a vote "for the future".

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Kevin Andrews is expected to contest the seat. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen. The Victorian branch's decision to open nominations less than a year after winning a federal election caused fierce debate within the party, with federal MPs furious that it could distract from the Morrison government's Mr Wolahan declined to comment when contacted by The Age, citing party rules prohibiting party members from commenting on preselection . However, a senior Liberal with close knowledge of the situation said it was very likely he would nominate. "The question for the party is whether it believes in renewal

Kevin Andrews is the member for the Victorian seat of Menzies and has held this seat since 1991. He has been known for his conservative views, having voted against same-sex marriage, carbon pricing, and increasing scrutiny of asylum seeker management, but he strongly supports Australian-based industry, increasing funding for road infrastructure and strengthening gun control. Under both the Howard and Abbott-led governments, Kevin Andrews has served as Minister for Ageing, Employment and Workplace Relations, Immigration and Citizenship, Social Services and Defence.

"I just want to begin by thanking Kevin Andrews - days like today aren't easy, but it was never a referendum on Kevin's record, which he and our Liberal Party members are very proud of," Mr Wolahan said just before 5.30pm.

"Today was a vote by the members for the future and I'm extremely proud of that. I have work to do in reaching out to the people of Menzies and winning their trust and fighting for them, and I will start doing [it] tomorrow."

Mr Andrews separately held a short press conference with Mr Frydenberg about 5pm, telling reporters he would complete the remainder of his term in Parliament and would "serve Australia" in other ways after the next election.

"I wish my successor well," he said. "I wish that in the future the Liberal Party will remain united, stable, strong, so that it can provide the government we all want for Australia; that we can meet the challenges of the future and we can make this country an even better country for our children and grandchildren."

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Long serving Liberal MP Kevin Andrews is being challenged for preselection by army veteran and barrister Keith Wolahan ahead of a possible federal election in 2021. The 65-year-old has held the seat of Menzies in Victoria since 1991. The 65-year-old has held the seat of Menzies in Victoria since 1991. Assistant Treasurer and fellow Victorian Michael Sukkar is backing Mr Andrews who wants one more term in parliament. The Andrews ' supporters are confident they can stave off the challenge.

Federal Parliament’s longest-serving member, Kevin Andrews , has been thrashed in a preselection ballot for his safe Melbourne seat of Menzies . Mr Wolahan’s challenge was the first of a sitting member since Mr Frydenberg ran unsuccessfully against Petro Georgiou in 2006. Mr Andrews is the first federal Victorian Liberal MP to be unseated in a preselection challenge since 1990 when Peter Costello and David Kemp muscled their way into Parliament in the respective seats of Higgins and Goldstein.

Sources inside the preselection event, held in Ivanhoe, said Mr Wolahan received hostile questioning about why he was challenging a candidate who was endorsed by a sitting prime minister and two former leaders - Tony Abbott and John Howard.

Mr Andrews was strongly backed by the conservative faction in the party, led by Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, and the result is a blow to Mr Frydenberg, who supported his colleague during the preselection campaign. Former prime minister Mr Abbott and senior federal ministers, including Greg Hunt, made calls to delegates on behalf of Mr Andrews last week.

"Does it look weak for [Mr Frydenberg] if Kevin loses? Yes it does," one senior party figure told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald this week.

Mr Frydenberg told delegates after voting commenced that he would support whoever the successful candidate was. A total of 292 of 318 eligible delegates attended the preselection convention.

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Kevin James Andrews (born 9 November 1955) is an Australian politician and member of the Liberal Party of Australia. He is currently a backbench Member of the House of Representatives for the seat of Menzies , to which he was first elected at the 1991 by-election.

Long serving Liberal MP Kevin Andrews is being challenged for preselection by army veteran and barrister Keith Wolahan ahead of a possible federal election in 2021.

He said the Liberal Party had started a "new chapter" in the seat of Menzies.

"Kevin Andrews has served the people of Menzies and the people of Australia with distinction for nearly 30 years," Mr Frydenberg said.

"In that time he has held a number of senior portfolios in a Coalition government and continues to perform senior roles in Scott Morrison's parliamentary party ... Kevin, thank you for your outstanding commitment to Liberal values, to your electorate, to your country."

The Treasurer also praised Mr Wolahan's credentials and said the duo "performed brilliantly" during the preselection battle, which he said was "democracy in action".

Mr Wolahan, 43, was the first person to attempt to unseat a federal Liberal in Victoria since Mr Frydenberg unsuccessfully challenged Petro Georgiou in Kooyong in 2006. The last successful preselection challenge was in 1990 when future ministers Peter Costello and David Kemp won battles against sitting members Roger Shipton and Ian Macphee in the safe Liberal seats of Higgins and Goldstein.

The contest was predicted to be neck-and-neck by both camps in the lead-up to Sunday's event at Ivanhoe, where local delegates heard speeches from the two candidates and held a question and answer session.

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While Mr Frydenberg spoke at an event with Mr Andrews and supported his federal colleague, he was not active behind the scenes in the same way his federal colleagues Mr Sukkar and Mr Hunt were. Mr Frydenberg met with Mr Wolahan in recent weeks and the pair have a respectful relationship.

The administrative committee met and endorsed the vote's outcome on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Wolahan - who completed three tours of Afghanistan in the 2nd Commando Regiment of the Australian Army, including as platoon commander, and who has a degree from Cambridge - was touted as a potential rival to Mr Andrews for many years and appealed to local members to renew the party by electing him as the candidate. The barrister did not seek high-profile endorsements and relied on the support of local community members.

Mr Andrews' campaign focused on his three-decade career, during which he opposed voluntary euthanasia laws and the introduction of abortion medication RU486.

He outlined a fresh five-year plan and had endorsements from a cohort of federal ministers including Health Minister Mr Hunt, Trade Minister Dan Tehan, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, former prime minister John Howard, and News Corp commentators Andrew Bolt and Peta Credlin, who spoke at events in support of Mr Andrews.

In the 2011 Australia Day honours Mr Wolahan received a Commendation for Distinguished Service, for duty in action. He attended Ringwood College, obtained a law degree at Monash University and studied a masters degree in international relations at the University of Cambridge. He joined the Liberal Party in 1996.

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