Surgeon throws hat in the ring to take on Ryan in Kooyong
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Australia’s first female vascular surgeon has put up her hand to try to wrest Josh Frydenberg’s former seat of Kooyong from teal independent Dr Monique Ryan at the next federal election.
Susan Morris, who runs a practice in Kew, told friends on the weekend that she planned to nominate for Liberal preselection in the wealthy seat in Melbourne’s inner east.
Battle for Kooyong: Surgeon Susan Morris, teal independent Monique Ryan and Amelia Hamer.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen and supplied
Morris, who is yet to submit her nomination forms, will be pitted against Amelia Hamer, who has formally nominated ahead of the January 15 cut-off. Senior Liberal senator Jane Hume, for whom Hamer once worked, is one of Hamer’s character references.
Neither Morris nor Hamer are high-profile figures and it would require an upset for one of them to unseat Ryan, who defeated the former Coalition treasurer at last year’s election and holds the seat with a 3 per cent margin. Frydenberg, who now chairs investment bank Goldman Sachs’ Australian and New Zealand operation, in September ruled out a political comeback, at least in this election cycle.
“Well, this is the night which may well change my life as I have decided to accept the preselection for the federal seat of Kooyong!” Morris wrote in a post on her personal Facebook page on the weekend.
“Although I have been a Liberal Party member for some years and have advocated during COVID for health issues, I have now decided to do more for the community than make a difference for one person’s life.
“As a surgeon, I hope the attributes of leadership, integrity and determination with thick skin will hold me in good esteem!”
Members are also urging Karen Sobels, who was the first female president of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to run. More candidates may emerge following Frydenberg’s decision to stay away from federal politics.
Morris’ surgery practice website states: “After 17 years of medical training, Susan became Australia’s first female vascular surgeon. Further training with eminent vascular surgeons in Europe and the US led her to specialise in vein treatments and surgery.”
The Coalition would need to win some of the six inner-urban electorates, including Kooyong, it lost to independents last year to lift its lower house seats from 55 to the 76 required to form majority government.
Political analysts and some Liberal MPs believe Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is running a two-term strategy that would see teal seats targeted at the subsequent election, but the opposition leader told his party room last month the Coalition was in a “strong position” to seize power at an election held as early as next year.
Dutton’s recent boost in opinion polls and Frydenberg’s prominent role in recent debate over antisemitism prompted the former treasurer’s associates to urge him to reconsider his decision.
But sources close to Frydenberg say he does not intend to run despite two polls, commissioned by his supporters, showing him marginally ahead of Ryan. He is not backing any of the potential Kooyong candidates.
A redrawing of electoral boundaries that will occur before the next election could drastically alter the area that Kooyong covers, making it either more or less difficult for the Liberal Party to re-take the prestigious seat it held for decades until last year.
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