Can Libs hold Dunkley? @Gus_Barnes reports


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Dunkley Seat profile

By Angus Barnes,

13 August, 2013

The electorate of Dunkley was formed in 1984, and named after Louisa Margaret Dunkley, a trade unionist and campaigner for equal pay for women.  These beginnings align with a common perception of Frankston as a blue-collar city.

The left-leaning electorate changed in nature in 1996 when the blue-ribbon Mornington suburb in the south was transferred in to the electorate in exchange for the northern Labor stronghold of Chelsea. Since then Dunkley has been held by Bruce Bilson, the Liberal Party sitting member.

Main Street Mornington

Main Street Mornington

The contest Dunkley is well in train, with a 1% margin an incentive to make this a Labor target, particularly following improved polling since the re-emergence of Prime Minister Rudd.  There is enough interest to justify an early campaign visit from Mr Rudd last Friday to a school in the marginal suburb of Langwarrin.

Less high profile was a visit by former Prime Minister Howard the previous week to launch the sitting member’s campaign.  Mr Billson was a rapid riser under the Howard Government, initially as Parliamentary Secretary for International Development under the Foreign Affairs portfolio then Minister for Veteran Affairs.  He is the Shadow Minister for Small Business, Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs.

Frankston Foreshore

Frankston Foreshore

Mr Billson has wasted no time in making local electorate commitments:

• $1.25 million for the Frankston foreshore revitalistion

• $800,000 for construction of a new youth centre in Mornington

• Re-opening the Frankston Centrelink Aged and Carer Counter

Labor’s candidate for Dunkley, Sonya Kilkenny, is a commercial lawyer who highlights her work with the non-government and not-for-profit sectors.  Her first commitment was $120,000 for new lights at the Peninsula Strikers Football Club.

Schnapper Point Drive Mornington

Schnapper Point Drive Mornington

These promises are yet to hit the list of candidate promises.

At the time of writing there are also four other candidates representing the minor parties (Australia Greens, Palmer United Party, Australian Sex Party and the Rise Up Australia Party, who potentially can inject some diversity in thought into the local debates.

I’ll have more on each candidate later based on interviews, since my interest in undertaking the citizen journalist role for Dunkley is partly driven by curiosity about what inspires these people to throw their hats into the political ringmand what their visions are for the electorate they aim to represent.

The last point indicates another reason I am motivated to write about this election – to better understand the place we live in. I am a blow-in – we have lived in the region for six years, and it’s been three years since we relocated to Seaford in the north of Dunkley.  When I think of the positive changes that have occurred in this time, all of them are catalysed by State or Local Governments or the private sector.  What influence does the Federal Government really have to change places?

Schnapper Point Drive Mornington

Schnapper Point Drive Mornington

Another reason I’m exploring this election in more detail is because of the frustration I feel about politics in Australia, particularly at the Federal level.  Presidential style-campaigns, bland debates, repetition of broad, detail-less policy heavily influenced by polls and focus groups and a lack of leadership all seem to be increasingly the norm. I wonder if the political system is spinning wheels trying to feed the impatient, high-paced, media-hungry contemporary world and losing touch with more longer-term thinking that actually drives our futures.

I would be happy to hear peoples views.

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  1. Interesting piece Gus, it reminds me of my electorate – Queensland’s Bowman – although we have a sitting LNP member with a much greater margin, so the ALP don’t seem to be bothering much with us in terms of “big ticket” campaigning.

    There’s plenty of sign waving and such, but electorally, I think I have moved into a place which switched off long ago.

    • Thanks for your comment Michael. The mood her has remained fairly ‘flat’ re a strong contest but maybe thats just the cold weather (can you send some warmth down – very jealous of your locale!)

      • Newsflash … only today we’ve had signs of life! A candidates forum organised by the local MSM no less. Of course all the candidates need to be there, and NoFibs have named and shamed the high number of candidate no-shows, mainly gagged LNP folk, but this is to be a visible event, available to watch afterwards online.

        Not turning up to that would be a misstep by anyone’s estimation.

        And it’s cold here today if that’s any consolation, but I still went swimming ….

  2. joy cooper says

    Well written & very descriptive, Gus. It will be interesting to see how it goes, especially with a plethora of minor parties to siphon off votes. Or to garner some of the donkey vote, perhaps.

    • Thanks Joy, we now know we have 9 candidates – a Family First rep as well as 2 independents. Like you say will be interesting to see if they impact re their preferences.