EIGHT candidates will contest the Saturday 2 March Dunkley by-election to replace former Labor MP Peta Murphy who died from cancer in December.
Women’s Spirit Project founder Jodie Belyea is standing for Labor while the Liberals have chosen Frankston mayor Nathan Conroy.
Alex Breskin is the Greens’ candidate. The Greens returned a first preference vote of more than 10 per cent at the 2022 federal.
Chrysten Abraham is running for the Libertarian Party, Heath McKenzie for the Australian Democrats, Bronwyn Currie for the Animal Justice Party, and Reem Yunis for the Victorian Socialists. After failed tilts for both Dunkley and the state seat of Frankston in 2022, conspiracy theorist Darren Bergwerf has chosen to run again as an independent.
Ballot paper positions drawn in Carrum Downs last Friday saw Conroy get the top spotwhile Belyea will be at the bottom.
Early voting starts on 19 February, and postal vote applications close on 28 February.
Dunkley has been held by the Labor Party since 2019, but was a Liberal seat for more than 20 years before that. Murphy won the seat by defeating first-term Liberal MP Chris Crewther. Liberal Bruce Billson was previously the MP for Dunkley for 20 years.
Murphy retained the seat with a 6.3 per cent margin in 2022.
National attention is focused on the outcome of the by-election. The federal government won the Aston by-election in 2023, but has since been hurt by the defeat of the Voice referendum. The by-election could also serve as a test of Labor’s proposed changes to stage three tax cuts.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and opposition leader Peter Dutton have both visited the electorate several times since the start of the year.
Labor candidate Jodie Belyea is the founder of the Women’s Spirit Project support group, and has also recently worked with the MEGT Foundation. In the past she has worked in youth services, and has helped run programs for people living with disabilities. She has also run programs for Indigenous Australians.
During her first press conference, Belyea said she would be campaigning on the cost of living, health and Medicare and affordable housing,
“I am not a career politician. I am not interested in playing politics. What I am interested in is creating a community that works together through working with governments at all levels, with local businesses and community organisations, bringing the voice of the people from the ground to parliament in Canberra.”
Nathan Conroy,31, and Frankston’s mayor since 2021, immigrated to Australia from Ireland aged 19. He says he worked his way up from packing envelopes and washing dishes to managing businesses before his election to council in 2020.
“What I want to do is give people a sense of hope, a sense of a vision of what our community is going to look like in five to 10 years time. I’m not into this divisive politics pitting people against each other – Labor, Liberal, or anything else. I just want to be a representative for my community, work extremely hard, listen to people from grassroots upwards and represent them in Canberra,” he said.
“I have a proven track record over the last three or four years that I’ve listened, I’ve turned up, I’ve done everything I can, and I will continue over the next three weeks to listen to people.
“We want to invest in the infrastructure that’s needed. We need to plan for the growth that’s coming and we need to make sure that things like health, education, child care, interest rates, and inflation are all under control.”