The candidate who wasn’t

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The candidate who wasn’t

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Teenage entrepreneur Spencer Porter has aborted his campaign to become the youngest member of any Australian Parliament after making an error in the nomination process.

In a Facebook post on Friday, April 26, the Dunkley independent apologised: “I’m sorry and I feel like I’ve failed our community but I know that I’ve made an imprint anyhow.”

Porter said that he had spent a “sleepless night” trying to sort out his eligibility once he realised the mistake.

The withdrawal evidently took a strong emotional toll on the 19-year-old. “For now I would like to focus on getting my head, my health and my wellbeing back to the best place possible,” he posted on his Facebook timeline.

Never in its 82 years as a federal electorate has Dunkley been represented by an independent so Porter would have made history if his campaign had been successful.

Before his shock decision, Porter had told The Junction he didn’t believe political experience or his youth would be an issue. “I think there’s a really great opportunity to go in with fresh eyes and young blood, to look at what’s going on and speak my mind.”

Relying on a grassroots campaign to connect with the community through social media, Porter had also spent hours doorknocking and greeting early-morning commuters at Frankston Station.

“I’m still learning what’s going on because the media and politicians are blindsided to what’s really going on, until you meet someone who’s going through it individually,” he said.

“Most of the time people don’t slam the door in my face.”

If elected, Porter had declared, he would be an independent in reality as well as in name: “I would operate bang smack [sic] in the middle,” he said. “I don’t look to associate or side with either [major] party.”

Porter’s campaign focused on the Frankston area, but after last year’s electoral redistribution he needed to campaign further afield – in Carrum Downs, Sandhurst and Skye if he was to stand to a better chance of gathering votes.

His interest in politics stems from an association with former Liberal MP and Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson.

In 2016 Porter first gained publicity for creating LOWK8, an app to help users find parking, and Billson endorsed his entrepreneurial spirit. “I created an app when I was 15 and that essentially jet-started me into the entrepreneurship world,” Porter said.

He grew up in the electorate, attending Elisabeth Murdoch College, Langwarrin, before moving to Frankston and concentrating on his business ventures.

Asked about his past community and political experience, he emphasised membership of his old school’s council, claiming to have been part of it for “years and years”.

He currently runs an online mobile enterprise, buying network services at a wholesale price and reselling them to consumers. The service locks a user into a 12-month plan with the first month’s payment heavily discounted.

Transparency was a key theme of Porter’s campaign. He said federal issues such as taxation, immigration, climate and welfare needed to be presented with more authenticity. “It’s really important to not be a puppet to a party and [to] do what needs to be done in a proactive sense to help the community.”

In particular he drew attention to the plight of businesses in Frankston battling for survival. “The biggest thing for me is seeing businesses close, as well as people going into big spouts of depression, anxiety and not being able to pay their bills,” he said.

In his short time on the campaign trail, the response from Frankston’s business community wasn’t entirely discouraging. Fortunato “Lucky” Ferraro, for one – the owner of Lucky’s Deli – thought he might be on to something.

“[Porter] needs to be there,” Ferraro said, “seeing how everyone else is doing it.”  “Frankston has been neglected for over 30 years by politicians.”