Hollie Hughes is next on the ticket after NSW National Fiona Nash stepped down from the federal Senate following the dual citizenship debacle.
The NSW Liberal been laying low on her property west of Moree in the heart of cotton country, while waiting to see what will happen as events unfold.
While Friday’s court decision gave the green light to three new senators to replace ousted duel citizens Malcolm Roberts, Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlum, it still remains to be seen wither Mrs Hughes will replace Mrs Nash.
Questions regarding her eligibility to sit in the Upper House have arisen due to her appointment this year to sit on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal which reviews government decision. Does this tax-payer funded job render her ineligible? Section 44 prevents people who hold an office of profit under the crown from standing.
Constitutional experts say that the situation remains complicated, but things have never really been simple in the personal and professional life of Mrs Hughes.
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Professionally, she was the slick political operator for Bill Heffernan, an outspoken and eccentric politician. She was also a staffer for Upper House Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, however she took the first Liberal spot on the Senate Ticket ahead of Fierravanti-Wells for the regular half-Senate election last year.
Her controversial win slotted her in the sixth position following a double-dissolution election (with 12 Senate spots up for grabs), however she was placed in an unwinnable position behind Defence Minister Marise Payne, Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos, former senator Ms Nash, Senator Fierravanti-Wells and Nationals senator John Williams.
After a decade of serving on the Liberal party, she is described as a “passionate advocate for rural and regional New South Wales.
Her experience of living in a rural area with an autistic child is what spurred her to set up the Country Autism Network (CAN) to help families feeling isolated while having to cope with this disability.
Salt and Shein, the corporate and government executive recruitment company, use her as their senior consultant and describe her as a woman woman who embraces “agility and innovation” She can be found in different cities during the week, but loves returning to her husband and (three)children on a farm west of Moree.”
Despite having a Bachelor of Arts with a major in communication and broadcast journalism from Charles Sturt University, Mrs Hughes has avoided making any comments to the media. She also holds a Masters in Politics and Public Policy from Macquarie University.