Unpredictable outcome in blue-ribbon Flinders


Olivia Guhl

Hastings marina – in the Flinders electorate.

Flinders should be a safe Liberal seat. But the lead up to the federal 2019 election has brought the electorate back into the race. The intervention of Julia Banks could threaten the stronghold the Liberal party has maintained since 1984.

Ms Banks quit the Liberal backbench in the wake of the leadership spill in August 2018 that saw Scott Morrison replace Malcolm Turnbull. She moved to the cross bench in November last year and has now decided to run as an Independent in Flinders, where she has a family home.

In a press release in January Ms Banks justified her standing in Flinders by saying, “This is about offering the people of Flinders choice.”

The former Liberal MP will be contesting Flinders instead of her current seat Chisholm. She is challenging former colleague Greg Hunt.

Named after explorer Matthew Flinders, the electorate has existed since the beginning of federation.

The Mornington Peninsula Shire has a high percentage of seniors, which explains the focus on old age facilities and health in the electorate.

Conservative parties have dominated the electorate, with Labor winning only three times. Located in the southern part of Mornington Peninsula, the electorate covers an area of 871 sq kms and includes Sorrento, Rosebud, Dromana, Hastings, Somerville and Mornington.

After the redistribution in 2018, the Liberal margin for Flinders shrank from 7.8% to 7.0%.

Health Minister Hunt has held the seat of Flinders since the beginning of his federal political career in 2001. Raised in Mornington, Mr Hunt makes much of his strong connections with the local community.

In a report by the ABC, Mr Hunt said, “I’m passionate about my electorate. It’s where I grew up and where I went to school, where our children were born, where my wife worked, my father worked,”.

He served as a Minister for Environment under the Abbott and Turnbull governments from September 2013 to July 2016. With the re-election of the Turnbull government in 2016 Hunt became the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

According to Mr Hunt’s official website, climate change, infrastructure, health, improved public transport and addressing increasing crime rates will be at the top of the Liberal agenda for the electorate.

Climate change is also important for independent candidate Julia Banks.
The former lawyer recently took to twitter to show her support for the “Stop Adani” campaign.

Ms Banks has made headlines once again with The Sydney Morning Herald’s exclusive on the involvement of Malcolm Turnbull’s son, Alex Turnbull, in the Independent candidates quest to win the seat.

It seems clear that climate change will be an important issue in the campaigns of all candidates contesting the electorate.

The Greens candidate, Nathan Lesslie, along with environmental issues is advocating for equality and social justice.

Another resident of Mornington standing in the 2019 election is Joshua Sinclair.
A former worker in a child disability organisation, Mr Sinclair will be representing the Labor party.

Other candidates in Flinders are Christine Mcshane from United Australia, Louis Fenollar of the People’s Party and independent candidate Susan Beveridge. All candidates contesting the seat will be profiled by The Junction.

According to polls, the safe Liberal seat will be on a knife edge with chances of Labor winning if the predicted large swing against Greg Hunt eventuates.