SATURDAY dawned like no other for Zoe McKenzie. The Liberal Party’s candidate for Flinders was facing the test of her career: could she get voter endorsement to fill the role occupied by retiring MP Greg Hunt for the past 21 years?
She need not have had any fears, within two hours of voting closing at 6pm, McKenzie was being declared the new MP for Flinders.
The result flashed on-screen by ABC TV just before 8pm initially gave her 58.2% of the vote and, although that total slipped as counting continued, the result was never in doubt. However, the win was quickly followed by the news that she would not be part of a Liberal-led government.
Australia’s 31st prime minister would be Labor’s Anthony Albanese, not Scott Morrison.
The majority of peninsula voters were out of step with those in Melbourne, where the Liberal Party now holds just two of 22 seats, equal to the teal independents and just one more than the Greens.
While the vote for McKenzie was positive at many polling booths throughout the peninsula, it was particularly strong in Sorrento (64%) and Portsea (74%).
At the other end of the peninsula where the Seat of Dunkley covers Mount Eliza, Labor’s Peta Murphy was re-elected with 57% of the vote in a contest against Liberal Sharn Coombes, 43%. On a two-party preferred basis Labor’s vote was up by more than 4%. (See page 25).
In Flinders, the two-party preferred vote for McKenzie was 55.54%, just 0.10% shy of Hunt’s tally at the 2019 election. Labor’s Surbhi Snowball came in at 44.46%, 0.10% above that of Josh Sinclair in 2019.
The Australian Electoral Commission reported a 71% turnout of the 114,542 voters in Flinders, with 5% voting informal.
McKenzie’s primary vote was 42.04%, down 4.68% on Hunt in 2019, and Snowball’s was 22.34%, 2.4% less than Sinclair.
Third in Saturday’s vote was the Greens Colin Lane with 9.36%, up 2.55% from the previous election, followed by independents Despi O’Connor, 7.9% and Sarah Russell, 5.46%.
At 7.04am on Saturday, McKenzie posted on her Facebook that she was “taking a moment before things get really busy” to thank the many “folk of Flinders … who have shared their stories, their hopes, their needs, their observations and their wisdom with me over the past five months”.
McKenzie listed the “important commitments” she had “secured … if the Coalition be re-elected today”.
On the list that now seems redundant was $10 million for road intersections; $5m for the Peninsula Trail’s Mornington to Moorooduc section; $1m “to explore options for a local world-class tourism and hospitality training school; $5.6m for sports; improved mobile phone coverage; $750,000 for Sages Cottage, Baxter; $5m for a veterans’ wellbeing centre; $920,000 for environmental projects in Western Port; $360,000 for the Mornington Peninsula Foundation.