Morrison scoffs at concerns over his Liberal replacement

Scott Morrison on the preselection of Simon Kennedy

Source: ABC News

Former PM Scott Morrison has brushed off criticism about the Liberals’ gender representation, after the party chose a successor for his Sydney seat.

Consultant Simon Kennedy, who easily won Liberal preselection for Morrison’s safe seat of Cook on Monday night, has also defended his selection by hundreds of party members cast in the Sydney shire.

Kennedy beat Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce and war widow Gwen Cherne for preselection for the safe Liberal electorate.

Cherne, who was the only woman to nominate, had the backing of another former prime minister in John Howard.

“It was very humbling to be chosen by the group of 300 locals,” Kennedy said on Tuesday.

“I’m here to listen [to the community] and stand up to this Labor cost-of-living crisis, to hold the Labor government and Anthony Albanese to account.

Following the Coalition’s 2022 election defeat, there had been calls for the Liberal Party to pre-select more female candidates for winnable seats.

Kennedy said there was already 50-50 representation for southern Sydney seats, with Jenny Ware representing the Liberals in the neighbouring electorate of Hughes.

“I haven’t heard that issue [of female representation] raised by anyone I’ve met over the time I’ve been here, the last time I’ve been in politics,” he told Sky News.

“What I’m hearing now is cost of living, that is issue one, two and three.”

Morrison also scoffed at concerns about representation, saying the pre-selection process was carried through.

“These are decisions that party members make, and we respect those,” he said.

“What matters is in a political party, the party members get to have their say, and they’ve had their say, and there was a very strong win for Simon.”

But Victorian MP Keith Wolahan said his party needed more women, particularly in the House of Representatives.

“What we have to do is to feed through members and pre-selection candidates who will then succeed, and there are so many talented women in the party who are doing that, who are putting their hands up now,” he told ABC’s Q+A program on Monday night.

Women account for only 30 per cent of the Coalition party room.

Kennedy is a partner of consulting firm Banksia, after leaving McKinsey, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The 41-year-old contested Howard’s former seat of Bennelong at the 2022 federal election but came up short against Labor’s Jerome Laxale after an almost 8 per cent swing against the Liberals.

Cook is a safe Liberal seat, with the party holding it by a more than 12 per cent margin, with 55 per cent of the primary vote.

While Kennedy lives outside of the Cook electorate, he said he would move to the area with his family on Friday.

“We are very excited to be moving there and to be part of this beautiful community,” Kennedy said.

“The people of Cook expect it.”

Morrison said on Tuesday he moved to the electorate only a year before he was elected.

A date for the Cook byelection has yet to be set.

Labor is yet to determine whether it will formally run a candidate. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Cook was not a seat Labor was expected to win.

-with AAP

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