After losing this weekends by-election in the seat of Bennelong to Liberal John Alexander, rumours are running wild that former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally could be headed to the Senate.
The Labor party have a vacancy in the Senate following Sam Dastyari resigning due to alleged links to China.
When a casual vacancy arises in the Senate, the party of the senator who created the vacancy nominates a replacement who is the confirmed by the state parliament. While the Labor party haven’t announced a successor and any sitting of state parliament won’t happen before the new year it is rumoured that Keneally could be parachuted into the Senate.
Should Keneally take up the vacancy created by Dastyari, barring a double dissolution she would not face re-election until the election after next as the term doesn’t expire until 2022. Such a move would be far more secure than being elected to a blue ribbon lower house seat, which has returned only one Labor member in almost 70 years. Of course, she may make a transition to the lower house in a future election by running for a safe Labor seat in the same was Barnaby Joyce did.
Keneally wouldn’t be the first former NSW Premier to join the Senate, with Bob Carr taking a casual vacancy in the Senate and becoming Foreign Minister under Julia Gillard. If Keneally takes up the position it is likely that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten would offer her a shadow ministry which she would likely retain in government if Labor is elected at the next election.
Keneally would be a strong parliamentary performer based on her previous experience in the NSW bearpit, where she is remembered for her declaration that she was “nobody’s puppet, nobody’s girl.”