The treasurer v the doctor: Debate crystallises the Kooyong conundrum
Had a stranger to Kooyong wandered into the Hawthorn Town Hall on Thursday and copped an earful of the debate between Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and independent rival Monique Ryan, they might not have realised that one of them is an experienced politician and the other an amateur aspirant.
Such is the confidence with which Ryan is laying siege to what was, not that long ago, considered a forever Liberal seat, she was prepared to swap policy barbs with the treasurer about Australia’s economy, relations with China and even tax reform.
At the debate hosted by Sky News on Thursday, the treasurer said the latest ‘Keep Josh’ billboards were a reminder to voters that if they like him, they should vote for him, regardless of their frustrations with the broader Liberal party.
“People need to know that if they want to keep me as the local member, but they may have an issue with something that the Liberal party has said or done, and they want to give us a kick for that, at the end of the day that may not leave me as the local member,” he says. “Which is, of course, not what I want.”
‘Vote for us because we are not Labor’ is the most unfulfilling call to action in recent memory.
Kooyong used to be the jewel in the Liberal party’s crown, the seat of its longest-serving and most revered prime minister, Robert Menzies. Its constituents have voted Liberal for so long it has become habit. That a sitting member, the most senior Victorian in the current cabinet, would ask people to vote for him despite the Liberal party, not because of it, would once have been unthinkable.
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