Josh Frydenberg launched his campaign targeting “so-called independents” to keep Kooyong’s seat, claiming their election would lead to chaos and a hung parliament.
Most important points:
- Mr Frydenberg said voting for independent candidates would create a Labor government
- His challenger in the previously safe seat, Monique Ryan, has said she would negotiate with both sides in the event of a hung parliament.
- Liberal Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson told the crowd it was “the struggle of Josh Frydenberg’s political life”.
The federal treasurer and deputy leader of the Liberal Party told more than 1,000 supporters that the match in the previously blue-ribboned seat was a “battle” that would dictate the next three years in Australia.
Located in leafy suburbs such as Kew and Hawthorn in eastern Melbourne, Kooyong has traditionally been one of the Liberal Party’s safest seats.
It used to be owned by Liberal founder and former Prime Minister Robert Menzies, as well as former Liberal leader Andrew Peacock.
It now risks being lost to Independent Monique Ryan, one of the “teal Independents” whose grassroots campaigns have been funded in part by the Climate 200 group.
Mr Frydenberg, Victoria’s most senior Liberal, is Scott Morrison’s natural successor should he leave the party’s role as leader and his potential impeachment worries many in the party.
Senator Sarah Henderson, who introduced the treasurer to the podium, said it was “the struggle of Josh Frydenberg’s political life.”
Mr Frydenberg has for 12 years touted his credentials as a local Member of Parliament and a lifelong resident of the area.
He also pointed to the coalition’s economic management during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 700,000 jobs saved by JobKeeper and a nearly 50-year low unemployment rate of 4 percent.
“If you think that Australia… can make the big decisions about the economy with a pending parliament, you are wrong,” he told the crowd.
“That brings me to the battle that we will all be fighting here in Kooyong in a few weeks.”
Mr Frydenberg reiterated his claim that Ms Ryan was not a “true independent”, saying that the Climate 200-funded candidates were akin to “a political party”.
“And they ask for your vote, but are not willing to tell you how they will vote in the event of a hung parliament,” he said.
dr. Ryan recently told ABC that if she were elected as a member of a hung parliament, she would negotiate with both major parties based on her two main platforms: climate action and a federal integrity commission.
Her campaign has been financially supported by approximately 2,000 individual donors and Climate 200, convened by businessman Simon Holmes a Court.
She is a former member of the Labor Party, but has distanced herself by saying she was “never an active member” and never attended party meetings.
“A vote for a so-called Independent will be a vote for higher taxes, a weaker economy and weaker national security.”
The only time Mr. Frydenberg mentioned Dr. Ryan by name was when he told an anecdote about her mother-in-law and said she would vote for him.
The launch was attended by liberal names such as Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, MP for Higgins Katie Allan and Senators Sarah Henderson, James Patterson and David Van.
Also in attendance was former Liberal Prime Minister Ted Baillieu, whose son Robert Baillieu was on Dr. Ryan works.
It took place at the same time that Labor officially launched its campaign in Perth.