Former Freehills lawyer Kelly O'Dwyer on Thursday won pre-selection for the inner Melbourne seat of former federal treasurer Peter Costello.
O'Dwyer is the first woman in Liberal party history to be pre-selected for a safe seat in Melbourne and beat millionaire and commercial lawyer Andrew Abercrombie for the chance to stand for election.
As a former staffer for Costello and a National Australia Bank executive, 32-year-old O'Dwyer's association with the Liberal Party dates back to 1995 when she worked as a part-time electoral officer for the Howard government's health minister, Michael Wooldridge.
Chairman of Freehills Robert Nicholson backed O'Dwyer, and in a reference said: "She is a woman of uncommon intellect, skill, energy and integrity, with the capacity to make a long-term contribution in public service," reported The Age.
Costello also supported O'Dwyer in an endorsement circulated to party members.
"I have never had a more talented political operator on my staff than Kelly O'Dwyer. Nor have I seen better in Coalition politics in Canberra," Costello said.
"Kelly has the intellect, judgement and work capacity to rise to a senior ministerial position in future government. Politics is a skill all of its own - part public speaking, part media, part fundraiser, part local organiser, part constituent counselor, part policy expert, part team member and leader. Kelly O'Dwyer has experienced all these levels. She understands politics."
O'Dwyer attended Presbyterian Ladies College, was honoured with two VCE Premier's awards, ranked in Australia's top 500 students and studied at Melbourne University.