Liberal candidate Hollie Hughes forfeited her chance to become a senator by taking a government job, despite resigning from the position within 45 minutes of a vacancy opening, the High Court has found.
In reasons issued today, the court did not mention how the empty Senate spot, left by dual national Fiona Nash, should be filled.
Ms Hughes was nominated for the position after a special countback when Ms Nash lost her Senate seat due to her Scottish heritage.
Ms Hughes resigned from her position on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal 45 minutes after the finding against Ms Nash.
Butthe court has found it was always a possibility Ms Hughes might be chosen to fill a vacancy, and by taking a government job in the meantime she lost her chance.
"Ms Hughes' acceptance in the meantime of appointment to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, with the entitlement to remuneration which that appointment brought, was understandable," the unanimous judgment said.
"But it was a voluntary step which she took in circumstances where … disqualification or lack of qualification of a senator who had been returned as elected was always a possibility."
The judgment did not say how the empty Senate spot should be filled.
If a countback is ordered, it is likely Liberal Jim Molan will take the seat, however if a casual vacancy is declared it could pave the way for Ms Nash to return.
More to come.