Victorian government frontbencher Mary Wooldridge can breathe easy for the first time in five months after securing a seat to contest the November election.
One day after the community services minister said she would be seeking preselection for the upper house, a sitting Liberal MP, Jan Kronberg, announced she would not be standing again in November.
Had Ms Kronberg not decided she wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren, Ms Wooldridge would have had to face Ms Kronberg and two other Liberal incumbents in the region.
Ms Wooldridge has been without a seat to contest the November election since her electorate of Doncaster was scrapped in the boundary redistribution announced last September.
It would have been her second battle for branch support this year, and her place in cabinet would not have assured her victory.
Ms Wooldridge lost the fight for the blue-ribbon seat of Kew to former Stonnington mayor Tim Smith in March, despite having strong ties to the area.
She grew up in Kew, went to school there and bought her first house there.
In December she said standing in Kew would be like coming home.
But even with the support of Premier Denis Napthine, she was bested by the 30-year-old.
Following Ms Kronberg’s decision, Ms Wooldridge will join Legislative Council president Bruce Atkinson and Richard Dalla-Riva on the ballot.
Ms Wooldridge said she was delighted to be on the Liberal ballot for the eastern metropolitan region, which includes Doncaster.
“Over the next eight months I will be working harder than ever to demonstrate to Victorians that only the Napthine government has the plan and the team to build a better Victoria,” Ms Wooldridge said.
Dr Napthine last week again showed his support for Ms Wooldridge in a cabinet reshuffle that anointed the team he would take to the election.
At the 2010 state election, the Liberal Party comfortably won three of the five seats in the Legislative Council’s eastern metropolitan region, with lead candidate Mr Dalla-Riva claiming more than 51 per cent of the vote.
The Liberals’ third candidate, Ms Kronberg, was elected with about 5000 votes to spare.
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said all Victorians should be provided with an assurance Ms Kronberg would not be offered any sweeteners if the coalition was re-elected.