Liberal National Party (LNP) heavyweight Barry O’Sullivan has been named by the Queensland parliament to replace Barnaby Joyce in the Senate.
The party had selected Mr O’Sullivan, its former treasurer, in May after Mr Joyce announced his retirement to contest the lower-house federal seat of New England, which he won in the September election.
But Mr O’Sullivan’s endorsement by the Queensland parliament, in accordance with constitutional protocol, was deferred to allow the state’s corruption watchdog to investigate him before he took his seat in Canberra.
The Crime and Misconduct Commission was investigating whether LNP officials, including Mr O’Sullivan, offered an inducement to Queensland MP Bruce Flegg to resign from his seat of Moggill to make way for Premier Campbell Newman in 2011.
It found no evidence for the allegations.
Mr Newman said Mr O’Sullivan would be a passionate and vocal representative for Queensland.
“He’s an accomplished businessman, farmer and police detective,” he said.
“He’s well known for his passion for rural and regional issues and people.”
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk was not as kind, saying she was disappointed the LNP did not select a woman to replace Mr Joyce.
“But if the LNP can honestly tell us, the people of Queensland, that the best person to represent us in the Senate is Barry O’Sullivan, we will not stand in their way,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk was also scathing of the time it took for parliament to endorse Mr O’Sullivan.
“For 27 sitting days, the Queensland parliament has allowed Queenslanders to have inadequate representation in the Senate,” she said.
The LNP selected Mr O’Sullivan as a senator during a worrying time for his family – grandson Patrick was thrown from a ride at a school fete in Toowoomba and suffered serious injuries.
A fully recovered Patrick was in the public gallery on Tuesday watching his grandfather’s endorsement.