Frankston Mayor Nathan Conroy has been pre-selected as the Liberal’s Dunkley candidate

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Frankston Mayor Nathan Conroy has won pre-selection as the Liberal candidate for the upcoming Dunkley by-election.

The seat, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, was vacated following the death of former Labor MP Peta Murphy, who died in early December aged 50.

In 2023, Councilor Conroy was re-elected as Mayor of Frankston City Council for a third consecutive year and was also crowned ‘Melbourne’s Most Popular Mayor’ by local radio station Fox FM.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese named community leader Jodie Beylea as Labor candidate for the upcoming by-election.

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Camera iconMelbourne’s ‘hottest mayor’, Cr Nathan Conroy, will contest Dunkley for the Liberals. delivered. Credit: Delivered

In the pre-selection for ordinary members on Sunday, Conroy was up against former state MP Donna Hope and staffer Bec Buchanan, who both work for state MP Chris Crewther.

In a statement, Mr Conroy promised he would work hard to ensure Dunkley remained a great place.

“I love this community. It is a privilege to be Mayor of Frankston City. But there is so much more to be done to help this community and that is why I have put forward my support for Dunkley,” said Mr Conroy.

The Liberal candidate also paid tribute to Ms Murphy, acknowledging she was “fearless and tireless in advocating for her community”.

Before pre-selection, questions were raised about Mr Conroy’s eligibility to stand in the by-election as he was born in Ireland, potentially preventing him from becoming an MP.

Article 44 of the Constitution prohibits citizens with dual nationality from becoming members of parliament.

PRIME MINISTER FRANKSTON
Camera iconMr Conroy will face off against Jodie Beylea, the Labor Party candidate. NCA NewsWire / Nicki Connolly Credit: News Corp Australia

Victorian Liberal Party chairman Philip Davis said Mr Conroy would be a strong supporter of local families struggling with the rising cost of living.

“This is an opportunity to send a message to an administration that has focused on the wrong priorities and needs to do better to address rising costs in our community,” Davis said.

“Unfortunately, Labor has shortchanged Victoria and recently cut funding for local infrastructure, breaking the promise to fund the Frankston Baxter Rail Upgrade.”

While both parties have publicly downplayed victory expectations, the seat – which has a large number of middle-income households in debt – is seen by strategists as a key barometer of how the government and opposition messaging are handling key demographics of the voters. the next full federal election.

At the 2022 election, Labor held the seat by a margin of 6.3 percent, although much of the support came from Ms Murphy’s personal popularity, rather than Labour’s, as support for the party in the Senate in the area is lower.

A date for the by-election is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, with voting likely to take place in late February or March.

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