Celia Hammond has been named the Liberal party’s candidate for Curtin, the safest blue-ribbon seat in Western Australia held by the former foreign minister Julie Bishop.
The former University of Notre Dame vice-chancellor, who was backed by prominent conservatives including the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, was preselected at a meeting on Sunday as the candidate for Curtin to fill the seat Bishop has held for two decades.
Hammond won the vote ahead of four other candidates: the foreign affairs specialist Erin Watson-Lynn – who was said to be the preferred candidate of Bishop’s moderate faction – the resources executive Anna Dartnell and the local councillors Karen Caddy and Andres Timmermanis.
Bishop, who announced in February she would not contest the coming election, and said in March she believed she could have beaten Bill Shorten had she won the Liberal leadership last year, took to social media to congratulate her successor.
Ahead of Sunday’s preselection, Bishop had encouraged the local preselectors to choose a moderate candidate so the views of the candidate were in line with the views of the voters of Curtin.
While stressing sitting members should not be involved in preselecting their successors, Bishop said: “Menzies named it the Liberal party because he wanted it to be a progressive party not a failed experiment, not reactionary and certainly not socialist.
“I think our party is strongest when both perspectives are balanced. If either side gets out of kilter then the party suffers.”
A number of senior moderates are bowing out at the coming election, including Christopher Pyne and Kelly O’Dwyer.
Sunday’s decision will be taken to the state council meeting on Wednesday to be ratified, a party spokesman said.
Prior to the result, the senior West Australian Liberal Linda Reynolds had refused to endorse a candidate as it was “purely and simply” for local preselectors.
“I think there’s an incredibly strong field and there are four amazing women who are running for preselection,” she told Sky News on Sunday ahead of the outcome.
“I know the preselectors today will choose wisely and whatever the outcome we will have a worthy successor to Julie Bishop.”
Bishop was the first woman to hold the seat of Curtin, and the first woman to run for the leadership of the Liberal party.