THE major parties have locked in their candidates for the Dunkley by-election.
The death of sitting Labor MP Peta Murphy in December left the seat of Dunkley vacant. On Thursday 11 January, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed that Jodie Belyea would be Labor’s candidate and on Sunday the Liberal Party chose Frankston mayor Nathan Conroy as its candidate.
Belyea is the founder of the Women’s Spirit Project, an organisation offering a free 11-week program for women who have experienced family violence, mental health issues, poverty, and unemployment. The program has run on the Mornington Peninsula and in Carrum.
Albanese, backed at the press conference by Peta Murphy’s husband Rod Glover, said Belyea would “continue to build on [Murphy’s] legacy”.
“No two people are the same. But they do remind me of each other in that they are both fighters, they’re both strong advocates,” Albanese said. “Jodie is certainly not a career politician. She’s someone who, I think, is the right fit for this community to be a strong advocate.”
Belyea told reporters on Thursday that she was “very fortunate to meet the late and great Peta Murphy through my work supporting women experiencing disadvantage through the Women’s Spirit Project”.
“I am not going to necessarily be Peta, but I am going to lean into her legacy,” she said. “I have big shoes to fill, and over the next few weeks you are going to see me campaigning on the cost of living, health and medicare, and affordable housing.”
Irish-born Conroy has been mayor of Frankston for three consecutive terms. He is an effective campaigner, having been elected to council in 2020 comfortably ahead of his closest challenger. He said “it’s a privilege to serve as mayor of Frankston City. But there is so much more to be done to deliver for this community and that’s why I’ve put myself forward for Dunkley”.
“I will always listen and I will work hard to ensure this community remains a wonderful place to live, work, raise a family and retire,” he said. “I wish it wasn’t in such sad circumstances. Peta Murphy was both fearless and tireless in advocating for her community.”
If Conroy wins the by-election and resigns from council, a countback of the 2020 election results would be held to appoint a new councillor. After the new councillor is sworn in, councillors will convene to elect a new mayor.
A date for the Dunkley by-election is yet to be announced.