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The Liberal candidate confirmed today as the next NSW senator joined a recruitment firm last year that has since won $1.3 million of NSW government contracts.
Hollie Hughes, who has long been a Liberal Party office-holder, has finally reached parliament after false starts in state and federal elections, thanks to the departure of the Nationals’ Fiona Nash, who was found to be a dual citizen. A recount this morning gave Ms Hughes the spot.
Ms Hughes joined recruitment firm Salt and Shein as “head of government”, and since then the firm’s contract with Roads and Maritime Services has climbed in value from $227,000 to $407,000 and a contract with Transport for NSW has risen from $234,000 to $884,000.
The firm has also begun two contracts with the Department of Planning, for $161,200 and $171,120. Sydney Trains awarded a $215,000 contract.
The chairman of NSW Labor’s wastewatch committee, Hugh McDermott, expressed concern yesterday at the awarding of contracts. “Is it just a coincidence that a Liberal Party apparatchik and putative senator happens to be a senior employee,” Mr McDermott said. “I’m very concerned that contracts worth more than $1.3m were awarded without an open and competitive tender process. Premier Berejiklian needs to explain how overnight the level of business that the state government has given these consultants has skyrocketed.”
Ms Hughes deferred any questions to her boss, Josh Shein, who said yesterday: “Hollie’s done a total of four jobs with the public sector and the total value of those jobs is less than 10 per cent of that ($1.3m) figure.”
He said many of the clients were pre-existing. Ms Hughes was appointed by the Turnbull government as a part-time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal earlier this year and recently resigned to be eligible for the Senate.
The Australian Electoral Commission pushed the button on special counts in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth this morning to select candidates to replace Ms Nash, the Greens’ Larissa Waters and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts in Queensland, and West Australian Green Scott Ludlam, after the High Court decision last month finding those members ineligible for parliament.
This article first appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au
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