Kooyong decides Treasurer’s future


Glenferrie Road in the heart of Kooyong. Photo: Marilyn Tan

You might have read about the fierce battle between Josh Frydenberg and  Monique Ryan for the seat of Kooyong.

You might have heard about the face-off between Ryan and building owners over a wall mural.

Or perhaps you might have watched the Liberal Party’s campaign launch, where Frydenberg wished for a warmer welcome in his electorate.

Welcome to Kooyong, a seat in Victoria where Ryan, an independent candidate, is fighting to unseat Frydenberg, the Treasurer of Australia.

The electorate, which spans 55 square kilometres, covers the inner-east suburbs of Balwyn, Balwyn North, Canterbury, Deepdyne, Hawthorn, Kew, Kew East, Mont Albert, and Mont Albert North, as well as parts of Camberwell, Glen Iris, Hawthorn East, and Surrey Hills.

It is also culturally diverse. According to the 2016 census, 11.6 per cent of its residents were of Chinese ethnicity, and it had more residents born in China and Malaysia than the national average.

Kooyong is also home to Swinburne University, which has a sizable international student population.

The seat has been held by the Liberal Party since the mid-1940s, but pollsters predict that it will change hands on May 21.

A YouGov poll predicted that Frydenberg would lose Kooyong to Ryan, a paediatric neurologist at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Most voters who were interviewed by The Junction expressed support for Ryan.

One such individual, Zachary Butcher, described Ryan as a “capable and intelligent woman”, and mentioned that he had cast a vote for the candidate.

Kooyong voter Zachary Butcher said the need for climate action influenced his vote. Photo: Marilyn Tan.

He also said that climate change is “very important”, and supported Ryan’s climate action policy.

Butcher is not supporting the Greens, who have an ambitious climate policy, because they “lack perspective on other areas of politics, compared to an independent or a Labor candidate”.

Another Kooyong resident, Ms Gabriella Maher, is one of the door-knocking coordinators for Ryan’s campaign. She believes that people in Kooyong “are ready for something different, and a lot of people are disenfranchised by the way the government has been run for the last 12 years.”

Asked to make a pitch for Ryan, she said: “There are significant problems, and they need to be addressed quickly … and Mon is ready to get in there, and to work hard, and to make these changes that we’ve been waiting for, for 20 years.”

Another Kooyong voter, Andrew McCredie, said he will be voting for Ryan.

“We need to have some change. For things to change … we need to vote for other people … because nothing is going to occur if we don’t do that.”

Mr McCredie also emphasised the importance of having MPs who will make a difference in Parliament.

“We need to have people in parliament…who are trying to make a difference. And if we do have some independents that can hold the balance of power, they can have some input and help shape our future,” he said.

However, not all voters support Ryan. Eamon Cooper said that he will be voting for Frydenberg as his “values align more with the Liberal Party”. He also expressed his concerns about having independents in parliament.

“My impression from the last time there was a hung parliament, was that it was hard to get things done. I feel that if independents are in parliament, it will be harder to get legislation passed,” he said.

The Junction reached out to volunteers from Frydenberg’s campaign, who declined to comment.