Deborah O’Neill, who lost her seat at last month’s election, has been chosen by the NSW ALP to fill the casual Senate vacancy created by the resignation of Bob Carr.
O’Neill is the defeated member for the House of Representatives seat of Robertson. She won Robertson in 2010, after defeating Belinda Neal in a preselection challenge. She was defeated on September 7, suffering a 4.93% drop in her primary vote to 34.83%. There was an overall two-party-preferred swing against the ALP of 4%, reducing it to 47%. The new Liberal member is Lucy Wicks.
O’Neill reportedly won the ALP endorsement by 36 votes to 1 at a meeting of the NSW ALP Administrative Committee today. She was endorsed last night by the Right faction. Reports say that Belinda Neal and her husband, John Della Bosca, attempted to thwart the nomination at the meeting.
Mike Kelly, the defeated member for Eden-Monaro, pulled out of the contest yesterday.
O’Neill will serve out the remainder of Bob Carr’s term until June 30 next year. The position was originally held by Mark Arbib who resigned in February 2012. O’Neill will then serve the full 6-year term Carr was elected to on September 7. She will not face election by the voters until 2019-20.
A former education teacher at the University of Newcastle, O’Neill is 52. She is aligned with social conservatives in the ALP and is regarded as an opponent of issues such as same-sex marriage.
Casual Senate vacancies are made under Section 15 of the Constitution.