REPORTS that an early federal election may be under consideration by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has seen the two major parties and two non-aligned groups preparing to campaign.
The Liberal and Labor parties have already selected their candidates but two non-aligned groups are yet to announce a candidate.
Liberal Greg Hunt, who has held Flinders for a record 20 years, will seek re-election and Surbhi Snowball will stand for Labor.
Voices for Mornington Peninsula has yet to announce its choice for an independent candidate but seems certain to join forces with the C200 climate change group led by Simon Holmes a’Court.
Mr Holmes a’Court said late last week that his group was targeting Mr Hunt and several other high profile Coalition MPs and had already attracted $1.5 million in donations.
Mr Hunt told The News last week that it would be “concerning … [if] there was a lot of outside people and money being poured into the electorate to try to influence how local people voted, not because they cared about the Mornington Peninsula, but because they had their own agendas”.
“That’s not in the interests of the people of Flinders and it would be disappointing if that occurred again [as it had on the previous election],” Mr Hunt said.
“Unlike these outside sources, I am a true local, having grown up on the peninsula and choosing to raise my family here. I think this is important as it demonstrates my commitment to the local community, which has always been my priority.”
Mr Hunt, the federal Health Minister, said his work “representing the local community has not waivered” despite COVID-19 being “a matter of national and global importance”.
The 2019 election saw a swing of 1.7 per cent against Mr Hunt, who won by a two candidate preferred margin of more than 11 per cent.
Labor’s candidate for the next federal election, Surbhi Snowball, says she was motivated to join the party in February 2017 when then Treasurer Scott Morrison “brought a lump of coal into Parliament”.
“I decided that very day that the future needed to look very different,” the mother of two who grew up in Mauritius, India and Zimbabwe said.
“I have always wanted to look after everyone’s future – I want to do more for the planet, and for our children. I do not feel represented by the Morrison government.”
Ms Snowball, who came to Australia as a 20-year-old, moved to the peninsula five years ago with her husband and children after working in banks, on farms, and running her own small business.
Voices of Mornington Peninsula leader Louise Page said the group had narrowed its list of would-be candidates down to three, although “we are not closing the books yet as, naturally, we want to ensure we have the best selection possible for the community”. “Given it is such a pivotal time [and] it’s a critical election. Announcement [of a candidate] should be by the end October,” Ms Page said.
Simon Holmes a’Court’s C200 had “introduced themselves to us (via Zoom, of course) to let us know who they are and what they are about”.
“No commitments were made by either organisation,” Ms Page said.
“The recent reporting in the media about C200 and Simon Holmes a’ Court reflects what they told us in that meeting. That is, they are looking to support independent candidates who have climate change, integrity and gender equity in their list of priorities.”
Ms Page said data collected by VMP showed “climate change, environment and integrity are among the priorities for residents here too, so it’s likely we will get a candidate who is strong on these issues”.
In an interview with Sydney Mornington Herald columnist Peter Fitzsimmons on 26 September Mr Holmes a Court, estimated there would be up to 30 community independent campaigns at the next election.
He said his group would “identify six to 10 with the best chance of success and offer assistance with strategy and fundraising”.
He said candidates would be chosen by communities, not C200.
“In Victoria, we are … looking at Greg Hunt, Tim Wilson and Josh Frydenberg. At the last election, the biggest swing was against Tony Abbott and the second biggest was against Frydenberg.
“All of the community groups we’re speaking with are after genuinely local, independent representation, and that means beating Labor, the Coalition and the Greens.”