TWO sitting MPs are among the nine candidates contesting the seat of Flinders in Saturday 18 May federal election.
Liberal Greg Hunt, who has held the seat for 18 years, is being opposed by former Liberal colleague now independent Julia Banks, the MP for Chisholm, as well as two other independents and five party-aligned candidates.
Two candidates, Susie Beveridge and Reade Smith, are former Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors.
Candidates as they appear on the ballot paper:
Harry Dreger, independent; James Persson, Animal Justice Party; Greg Hunt, Liberal; Reade Smith, Sustainable Australia; Josh Sinclair, Australian Labor Party; Nathan Lesslie, The Greens; Christine McShane, United Australia Party; Julia Banks, independent; and Susie Beveridge, independent.
Flinders is regarded as being safe for the Liberals, with Mr Hunt winning the 2016 election with a seven per cent two-party preferred majority.
However, the electorate boundaries have changed since the 2016 election and Flinders now covers just the Mornington Peninsula and French Island; previously it included much of the Shire of Bass and Phillip Island.
The redistribution notionally cut Mr Hunt’s margin from 7.8 per cent to a still-healthy seven per cent.
Another factor may be Labor’s surprise win in last November’s state election of the state seat of Nepean, held for the Liberals for 14 years by outgoing MP Martin Dixon. The area covered by Nepean would have been seen as a stronghold for Mr Hunt.
His Labor opponent, Josh Sinclair, was campaign manager for the now Labor MP for Nepean, Chris Brayne. Independent candidate Julia Banks will direct her preferences to the Labor Party ahead of the Liberals on her how to vote cards.
Ms Banks, one of the three independents seeking election, left the Liberal Party last November accusing both major political parties of “bullying and intimidation” following the leadership turmoil that saw Scott Morrison appointed prime minister after the resignation of Malcolm Turnbull. Mr Hunt ran unsuccessfully deputy leader of the party and was a key supporter of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in his bid to take Mr Turnbull’s place.