The Liberal Party’s failure to get retired major general and popular conservative candidate Jim Molan elected is a “tragedy for our country”, according to former prime minister Tony Abbott.
Mr Molan was pushed to the unwinnable 7th position on the Coalition’s NSW Senate ticket but received 10,182 first preference votes, the second highest number out of the 12 Liberal and National Party candidates.
Only Defence Minister Marise Payne, who was number one on the Senate ticket, received a higher number with 39,108 votes.
Four sitting Coalition MPs — Fiona Nash, Arthur Sinodinos, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and John Williams — received much fewer votes than Mr Molan but were re-elected because of where they sat on the Senate ticket.
“This is a tragedy for our country and for our party,” Mr Abbott told 2GB radio.
“There are few better men than Jim Molan. He commanded some quarter of a million soldiers in Iraq, the Americans trusted him to the extent that they made him a senior operational on the ground commander. This guy’s commanded more soldiers than any Australian general since World War II and he wasn’t good enough to be higher up our ticket because he didn’t fit the factional mould.
“This is just wrong, it’s just wrong.”
Mr Molan, who commanded allied troops in Iraq in 2004 and co-authored the Abbott government’s controversial Operation Sovereign Borders policy, told The Australian last month he wanted to “democratise the Liberal Party from within”.
“This does show those who want to vote individually will do so,” he said of his high number of first preference votes.
Of the 182 NSW Senate candidates, Mr Molan received the fourth highest vote behind Labor’s Sam Dastyari, Senator Payne and the Greens’ Lee Rhiannon.