"It says something about the Coalition's priorities that its focus is to nominate partners for diplomatic and government jobs before the elections."
A former lawyer, Senator Bushby entered Parliament in 2007, presided over several committees and served as head of government in the Senate, although he has never served as a leader.
In his new job as one of Australia's six consuls-general in the United States, Senator Bushby can expect significant salary and taxpayer-financed housing, but based on recent appointments, he is unlikely to exceed his current salary.
Both sides of politics have used jobs to reward friends and allies. In May 2013, then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that former Labor Secretary Steve Bracks would accept the coveted New York-based consul-general.
At the time, Coalition spokeswoman Julie Bishop said the ruling was "inappropriate" because of the proximity to the election, scheduled for September 2013, and called laborism "arrogant" for not consulting the opposition.
Bishop reversed his appointment when he became foreign minister, instead of picking John Howard's cabinet minister and closing Tony Abbott's ally Nick Minchin for the show.
The main role of the consul general is to represent Australia's interests overseas and to promote Australia as an economic partner for its host countries. Sen. Payne said the Midwest was home to 163 Fortune 500 companies and was "an integral part of Australia's broadest trading and investment partnership with the United States."
A spokesman for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who finally approves of the nomination, referred questions to Sen. Payne. His spokesman did not respond to questions before the deadline on Friday, including questions about Senator Bushby's selection process.