Bittersweet victory for new Labor MP Peta Murphy
Peta Murphy recorded a historic win as the first woman elected to the federal seat of Dunkley in south-east Melbourne, and its first Labor MP in 23 years, but her victory has been bittersweet.
Incumbent Liberal MP Chris Crewther finally conceded defeat on Friday night, after initially hoping that postal votes might get him over the line.
However, instead of helping sweep Bill Shorten into the top job, Ms Murphy snared one of only two Victorian seats from the Coalition – half the number the party had hoped – making Ms Murphy an Opposition MP. “We desperately would have loved to have been able to deliver the fairer agenda that we put to the election,” Ms Murphy, who served as chief of staff to Opposition industrial relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor, told The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
She said winning the seat named after Louisa Dunkley, an early campaigner for equal pay for women, was timely as attention focussed on women’s representation in Parliament and their treatment during the cut and thrust of politics. “That resonated pretty strongly across the electorate,” she said.
Labor’s finance spokeswoman Clare O’Neil defended the party’s backing of male candidates for both leader and deputy leader on Sunday, while following former leadership contender Tanya Plibersek’s lead by ruling herself out of the race for deputy. “We have a parliament where my party has almost 50 percent of our caucus female. They [the Coalition] are on 22 percent – that is unacceptable,“Ms O’Neil told the ABC’s Insiders.
Ms Murphy benefited from a redistribution that had made Dunkley a notional Labor seat on a wafer-thin margin of 1.3 per cent ahead of the election, but secured a further swing of 2.4 per cent in her primary vote. She joins the Parliament along with Libby Coker who won Corangamite – also deemed notionally Labor – from the Coalition’s Sarah Henderson. But she said there was more to the victory than the redrawing of boundaries, citing positive swings at polling booths in conservative parts of the electorate where Labor’s “positive campaign” had “really resonated”.
Asked if the Shorten campaign had failed to sell its message to voters worried about jobs – particularly in Queensland, where Labor was damaged by concerns over its position on the Adani coal mine – the former staffer said she could only reflect on her own electorate. “I found in the most working class suburbs of Dunkley not only were people worried about the future of the planet for their grandkids, they also saw it as the sort of jobs that are going to be available for their kids their grandkids going forward,” Ms Murphy said. “That’s the part about climate change that is really important … focussing on how people in those working class suburbs are going to be employed in the new industries.”
She downplayed the tension between voter priorities in regional Queensland and the inner city enclaves of Sydney and Melbourne, saying Australians were “fundamentally worried about the same things … no matter where they live”. “I don’t think it matters where in the country Australians live, Australians want a future for themselves and for their community,” she said. “They’re worried about the quality of life for them and their family and they’re worried about the quality of life for the future.”
Former Dunkley MP Chris Crewther signs off with heartfelt gesture to Frankston’s needy
Liberal Chris Crewther has conceded his time is up as the MP for Dunkley, but not before a parting gesture to help the area’s disadvantaged.
Former Dunkley Liberal MP Chris Crewther has formally conceded to Labor’s Peta Murphy.
In a heartfelt statement, Mr Crewther said it had been a privilege to serve as the federal MP for the seat over the past three years. “This is a community and people I love. We have friendly locals, and the best of the city, the country and the coast,” he said.
Mr Crewther congratulated Ms Murphy for her hard fought campaign and tenacity to win the seat. “Peta will have a lot of hard work ahead of her and I wish her all the best in serving the electorate over the next few years,” he said.
Mr Crewther said he was proud of many achievements, particularly supporting the rebirth of the Frankston Churches Breakfast Club meals service for the homeless. In a parting gesture, Mr Crewther organised for signs to be placed in central Frankston listing free local meals services for the needy.
Ms Murphy said she was honoured and privileged to be elected as the first female MP for Dunkley. “I will work hard every day for our community, at home and in Canberra,” she said.
“With Dunkley being a marginal seat, a tight political campaign leaves a legacy of a range of promised projects that enjoyed bipartisan support. “I will hold this government to account to make sure that every promise made is delivered.” Ms Murphy praised Mr Crewther for his service to the community during his time as Dunkley MP.
Mr Crewther (37,250) held a narrow lead over Ms Murphy (36,089) on first preferences with 88.8 per cent of votes counted. But on the two party preferred vote, Ms Murphy (48,905) was well ahead of Mr Crewther (44,321). Mr Crewther initially held a 1.43 per cent margin, but a boundary redraw that removed Liberal-leaning Mornington made Dunkley a nominal Labor seat. Of the minor parties that stood in Dunkley, the Greens did best (7671) followed by Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party (4824), the Animal Justice Party (2803), United Australia Party (2394), Fraser Anning’s Conservative Party (1287) and Rise Up Australia Party (908).
Frankston mayor Michael O’Reilly congratulated Ms Murphy on her victory. “We look forward to seeing and supporting the positive impact Peta will undoubtedly make in empowering women, promoting equality and encouraging female participation in our local community,” he said. “We look forward to working with her to advance the many positive projects and services that are required by the Frankston City community.” Cr O’Reilly praised Mr Crewther for his work advocating for a range of vital projects in Frankston.
The Coalition committed to projects including expanding the Jubilee Park indoor stadium, more carparking at Frankston, Kananook and Seaford Train Stations and electrifying the Stony Point rail line from Frankston to Baxter.
Labor’s Peta Murphy set to win Dunkley while Liberal MP Greg Hunt holds on to Flinders
Labor’s Peta Murphy is on track for a bittersweet win in Dunkley.
Ms Murphy is poised to become Dunkley’s first female MP and the first Labor candidate to win the seat in more than 25 years. Her likely win comes despite Labor’s shattering loss to the Scott Morrison-led Coalition Government. Ms Murphy said she would be honoured to follow in the footsteps of the electorate’s namesake, Louisa Dunkley, who was a campaigner for equal pay for women. “It has been a privilege to have worked with and in our community to put forward a positive plan for what we can achieve together,” she said in a statement. “If I am further privileged to be your representative in Canberra, I will work hard everyday to deliver on that plan.”
Sitting Dunkley Liberal MP Chris Crewther has not conceded but acknowledges Ms Murphy is in the “box seat” to win Dunkley. “It’s more likely that I won’t win that I will,” he told the Leader. Mr Crewther said he hoped that soon to be counted postal votes went his way. Mr Crewther (30,500) held a narrow lead over Ms Murphy (30,210) on first preferences with 72 per cent of votes counted. But on the two party preferred vote, Ms Murphy (40,738) was well ahead of Mr Crewther (35,830).
Mr Crewther initially held a 1.43 per cent margin, but a boundary redraw that removed Liberal-leaning Mornington made Dunkley a nominal Labor seat. Of the minor parties that stood in Dunkley, the Greens did best (6234) followed by Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party (3798), the Animal Justice Party (2156), United Australia Party (1914), Fraser Anning’s Conservative Party (1042) and Rise Up Australia Party (714).
In neighbouring Flinders, sitting Liberal MP Greg Hunt withstood a fierce campaign from unions and activists that had urged voters to “shunt Hunt”. Mr Hunt also repelled a challenge by Liberal turned independent Julia Banks. “I’m delighted to … say the Liberal Party has won the seat of Flinders,” Mr Hunt said on election night. “It’s a deeply humbling moment, it really is.”
Despite big swings recorded in early counting against the Health Minister, Mr Hunt had been “very positive” as he arrived to applause at his after-party at the Rye Hotel at 9pm. He has held the seat of Flinders since 2001. Mr Hunt (37,401) easily won over Labor’s Josh Sinclair (20,243) and Ms Banks (11,723) on first preferences with 77 per cent of the vote counted. On a two-party preferred basis, Mr Hunt (44,314) was well ahead of Mr Sinclair (36,235).
Mr Sinclair congratulated Mr Hunt on retaining the seat. “I have gotten to know Greg, his staff and volunteers quite well recently and I wish them nothing but success for the next three years,” he said. “Everyone who works in government or politics puts their heart into bettering our community and his office is no exception.” Of the minor parties and independents that stood in Flinders, the Greens (5222) were on top followed by the United Australia Party (1903), Animal Justice Party (1799), Susie Beveridge (771), Harry Dreger (755) and Sustainable Australia (732).
Labor likely to break Dunkley drought
WITH over 70 per cent of the vote counted from Saturday’s federal election, the seat of Dunkley will almost certainly be won by the Labor Party.
For the first time since 1996 it appears the electorate of Dunkley will be in Labor’s hands with their candidate Peta Murphy holding a 6.4 per cent lead on a two party preferred basis with just under 73 per cent of the vote counted. Incumbent MP Chris Crewther has yet to officially concede, but has admitted that victory is “unlikely”.
Ms Murphy, a former lawyer and a candidate in the 2016 election, said that the results in Dunkley were “looking good” and she was looking forward to getting stuck into work if elected. “We ran a really positive campaign, people responded to me being out and about in the community. I think I built on my positive work from last campaign, and having been a part of the community people told me it was good that I came to their door, I met people in my community, and I had really positive ideas for Dunkley,” she said.
The night was a bittersweet one for Ms Murphy, as she was one of only a small handful of Labor candidates to pick up seats from the Coalition. Labor conceded the election on Saturday night, but Ms Murphy said she is up for the challenge of working in opposition. “Really the first priority was always representing Dunkley in Canberra, and that doesn’t change in government or in opposition. I’ll have to be a little bit louder in opposition but luckily I’ve got a very loud voice,” she said.
“Even in opposition, I’ll continue to push really hard for all of the projects I’d committed to. I’ll be pushing for support from council and the state government on crucial projects, and I’ll be pushing the federal government very hard to deliver all the things the Liberals promised during the election. “If elected I’ll be first woman to represent Dunkley, and I will fight every day to do the memory of Louisa Dunkley proud and fight for our community.”
Incumbent MP Chris Crewther was elected in 2016, replacing outgoing Liberal Bruce Billson. His time as member for Dunkley appears to have only lasted one term. He told The Times that he was proud of the work he had done for the electorate. “There’s been heaps of things done in this term and heaps budgeted things done for Dunkley by the Coalition government. My proudest achievement was the actually the return of the breakfast club for those in need. I had instigated a meeting with the new head of Chisholm, and now that serve is up and running five times a week,” he said.
“There’s also been $228 million for Baxter line electrification and duplication, and I hope the state government gets on board working with the member for Dunkley on that project. There’s $32 million for the Health Futures Hub, funding for the Ballarto Road project, and a range of different sporting clubs. Civic Reserve, Lloyd Park, RF Miles reserve, the Karingal Bulls, Centenary Park, Ballam Park, significant amounts have already been delivered to these projects and more, and will be completed in years to come whether I’m in the seat or not.
“I really do love the community, not just as the local member but just as a local in the area. I’ve been passionate about the people and giving them opportunities. Hopefully whoever the member for Dunkley is going forward will be genuine and honest.”
Mr Crewther said that the redistribution of the seat that made it notionally Labor had been the most significant factor in his likely loss. He paid tribute to his campaign team and said if he couldn’t come back and claim victory, he was looking forward to spending more time with his family. “If I don’t get across the line, I’m looking forward to spending time with family, and especially my newborn son. In this job around election time, you’re working 21 hour days. That comes at a cost to your family, and I look forward to spending more time with them,” he said. “I’d like to thank my wife Grace who has been a great help. I’d also like to thank my campaign team; there has been heaps of people volunteering. Jake, Ken, Michael, Kerry, Jan, Arthur, someone was always out and about putting signs up or helping. I thank everyone for their terrific efforts; the amount of volunteer hours has been massive.
“It’s been fantastic over the last few years to serve the community; it’s been a community I love.”
ABC election analyst Antony Green called the seat for the Labor Party on Saturday night.
First published in the Frankston Times – 20 May 2019
Hunt safe again in Flinders
LIBERAL Greg Hunt easily retained his seat of Flinders in Saturday’s federal election.
Mr Hunt’s seventh win in a row helped the Scott Morrison-led Liberal National Coalition regain government for a third term. A senior cabinet minister in the previous government, Mr Hunt is expected to retain his position as health minister.
In the nine-candidate contest for Flinders, Mr Hunt, by late Monday morning, had received more than 46 per cent of primary votes, well ahead of his nearest rival, Labor’s Josh Sinclair, who was sitting on 25 per cent. Coming third in the vote was now independent former Liberal MP for Chisholm, Julia Banks, with 14.55 per cent, followed by the Greens’ Nathan Lesslie, 6.48 per cent; Christine McShane, United Australia Party, 2.36 per cent; James Persson, Animal Justice party, 2.23 per cent. Two former Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors, Reade Smith, Sustainable Australia, and Susie Beveridge, independent, and independent Harry Dreger all received less than one per cent of votes.
In neighbouring Dunkley, Labor’s Peta Murphy won the seat from Liberal Chris Crewther. The seat had been subject to a redistribution which saw its boundary move north out of Mornington and into Carrum Downs, making it “notionally” Labor.
In a statement issued Monday morning, Mr Hunt said he was “proud and humbled” to be re-elected in Flinders. “I want to congratulate my Labor opponent Josh Sinclair and all other candidates on a hard-fought campaign. Putting your hand up for public service is an endeavour never taken lightly and they should be immensely proud of their achievements,” he said. During the early counting on Saturday night, with a “roomful of optimistic people” behind him, Mr Hunt told Channel 9 he was “very optimistic”, but shied away from claiming victory.
Within hours there were no doubts and his Labor opponent Josh Sinclair was congratulating him on his win. In an email that arrived at 2.39am Sunday, Mr Sinclair said he had called to congratulate Mr Hunt “a few moments ago”. Mr Sinclair said he had “gotten to know Greg and his staff and volunteers quite well recently and I wish them nothing but success for the next three years”. “Everyone who works in government or politics puts their heart into bettering our community and his office is no exception,” he said. Mr Sinclair said the four per cent swing to Labor in Flinders “is the closest outcome this seat has seen since 1983”.
Mr Hunt was dogged throughout the five-week election campaign by leftist activist group Get Up, which took out advertisements reminders voters of his involvement in the attempted leadership coup by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. The failed leadership bid led to Scott Morrison being elected prime minister. Both Mr Dutton and Mr Hunt retained their portfolios and senior cabinet positions. A voters’ poll taken on behalf of GetUp by Lonergan accurately predicted Mr Hunt would retain Flinders, albeit with a reduced margin.
The same certainty of Mr Hunt’s retention of Flinders was held by Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr David Gill who, as well as issuing a statement of congratulations on Sunday, said the shire was hopeful that commitments and promises made during the election campaign would be kept. “Commitments and promises will now be followed up by council in order to help gain the best practical outcomes for the Mornington Peninsula municipality’s community,” Cr Gill stated. He said there had been “a welcome emphasis” on the peninsula’s needs during the election. Expectations were “high” that noticeable improvements would be seen in traffic safety, public transport, patient care, youth services, schools, “drought proofing” the peninsula, bike paths, environmental causes and for “the various community groups promised funding”.
Mr Hunt told The News that there was “a wonderful list of projects and commitments to deliver for the peninsula … including a national centre for coasts and climate at Point Nepean, new cancer services at Rosebud and Mornington, improvements to local roads like Jetty Road, Rosebud and working with the community to oppose AGL in Crib Point.” Election commitments made by Mr Hunt include money for the Rye basketball courts; RM Hooper Pavilion; Point Leo SLSC; Somerville Bike Track; Barber Reserve; Western Port Biosphere; Hinterland Environmental Water Scheme business case; pedestrian upgrades in Balnarring; and Mt Martha North Beach.
First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 21 May 2019