29 April 2024

Liberals pin Senate hopes on Jacob Vadakkedathu

| Ian Bushnell
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Jacob Vadakkedathu will be hoping to regain a Senate seat for the Liberals. Photo: Facebook.

The Liberal Party will run a culturally diverse team to contest the Senate in next year’s federal election, with Jacob Vadakkedathu coming up with a surprise win at the weekend preselection vote and Hayune Lee selected as his running mate.

Mr Vadakkedathu, a former public servant and now owner of a business providing management and financial services, defeated the fancied Kacey Lam-Evans 163-121 in the final ballot.

Ms Lee, a Defence data analyst, defeated Bola Olatunbosun to take the No 2 position on the ticket.

Both come from a migrant background: Mr Vadakkedathu from India and Ms Lee from South Korea.

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Four candidates vied for the No 1 position, hoping to regain the Senate seat lost by Zed Seselja in the 2020 poll.

The first to be knocked out was former ACT deputy opposition leader and MLA Giulia Jones.

Dr Jerry Nockles, a former Eden-Monaro candidate who gave up his preselection to contest Kurrajong at the ACT election, followed in the second round, leaving Mr Vadakkedathu and Ms Lam-Evans to fight it out.

Mr Vadakkedathu has been an unsuccessful Liberal candidate in the past three ACT elections but mustered cross-factional support to beat out the challenge from Ms Lam, who was mainly backed by the party’s moderate members. However, a party insider said allegiances were much more fluid than most realised.

In his letter to party members, Mr Vadakkedathu said his vision for Canberra included improved infrastructure and advocating for a fair share of Commonwealth resources for the territory.

“Friends, I stand for more opportunities, personal freedom, better choices and increased confidence in planning for the future,” he said.

“If elected, I pledge to be a dedicated representative, actively engaging with constituents, addressing their needs, and advocating for their concerns at the national level.”

Mr Vadakkedathu said he had served in a number of community organisations including the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Canberra Business Chamber, the Federation of Indian Associations in ACT as founding president, Gungahlin Community Council, Y’s Men’s International Club, the Cancer Council, Vinnies and the Red Cross.

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The party insider said this Senate ticket would be the most culturally diverse the Liberals had ever fielded, challenging the narrative of being an organisation out of touch with the community.

They said Mr Vadakkedathu stood a good chance next year, given 2020 was a confluence of extraordinary circumstances, including a Prime Minister on the nose.

They said the Liberal primary vote was expected to rebound, with anti-Zed Liberals returning to the fold. Senator David Pocock could also take votes off Labor’s Senator Katy Gallagher, who may have lost some of her gloss.

But it will be a tough road back to the Senate for the Liberals, with Senator Pocock solidifying his support with a good performance so far and Senator Gallagher being a high-ranking Cabinet member who still commands a strong following in the ACT.

Ms Lam-Evans, a defence lobbyist, received the endorsement of ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee and was favoured as a female candidate.

But in the end, Mr Vadakkedathu won by a comfortable margin.

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Ian De Landelles4:18 pm 30 Apr 24

History shows that in any jurisdiction, it’s very difficult for an independent to win a seat. Having done so, if the elected member works hard, they’ll retain the seat for as long as they are perceived to be representing their electorate well. On that premise, David Pocock will continue to hold his Senate seat, and the pre-selection of Mr Vadakkedathu certainly won’t make his task any more difficult.

Capital Retro9:28 am 30 Apr 24

There are a lot of Canberra electors who have sub-continent origins. They will vote for him.

Interesting choice with Vadakkedathu who hasn’t made any traction in three attempts, and probably should have made way for fresh blood. But hey, I’m sure he has loads of integrity…

See Pocock again next senate

Mr Pocock will walk back in. By a mile.

So according to the canberra times his policy priorites are tax breaks for farmers. Nice to see he has his finger on hot button isues for canberrans……

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