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The battle for independents in Health Minister Greg Hunt’s electorate has descended into chaos, with a second ‘Voices Of’ candidate approved to run in Flinders, holding a competition to determine which candidate will receive support from the Climate 200 fund .

Aged care researcher Dr Sarah Russell, shortlisted by Voices of Mornington Peninsula on Sunday evening after her original candidate pulled out and a rival chose to run independently from the group, described the situation as “a clusterf —” but said she wanted to represent local interests as a true independent.

Dr Sarah Russell is running as a “Voices” candidate at Flinders.

“I want Voice of Mornington Peninsula to be its own thing,” Dr Russell said.

“I feel like we’re all becoming a bit of a brand. The things that matter in the Peninsula are not like in Goldstein.

She said residents had “lost their voices because Greg Hunt didn’t act for us – he acted for his party”.

Mr Hunt is retiring in the election, potentially putting the seat on the line after his margin was reduced in the traditionally safe Liberal seat from 7% to 5.6% in the 2019 election. The Liberal candidate is the former director of the National Broadband Network and Business Advisor Zoe McKenzie.

Former Victorian health bureaucrat Claire Boardman withdrew her candidacy on January 19 after her shortlist opponent, local councilor Despi O’Connor, decided to run for the seat without the support of Voices, dividing so the vote.

Claire Boardman was shortlisted as the Voices of Mornington Peninsula contestant for Flinders but pulled out in January.

Claire Boardman was shortlisted as the Voices of Mornington Peninsula contestant for Flinders but pulled out in January.

Uncertainty remains over which candidate, if any, will receive financial support from Simon Holmes a Court’s Climate 200 fund.

The fund’s executive director, Byron Fay, said Ms O’Connor had been invited to apply for funding for the Climate 200 campaign, but Dr Russell could also apply.

“We would treat any application on its merits,” Mr. Fay said.

Dr Russell said she decided to stand as the new Voices of Mornington Peninsula contestant after unsuccessfully trying to convince Ms O’Connor not to undermine Ms Boardman, who in December resigned as deputy commander Victorian Government Public Health for Infection Prevention and Control. run for the seat.

Despi O'Connor is seeking support from the Climate 200 fund for her independent campaign for Flinders after losing shortlisting as a Voices of Mornington Peninsula candidate.

Despi O’Connor is seeking support from the Climate 200 fund for her independent campaign for Flinders after losing shortlisting as a Voices of Mornington Peninsula candidate.

“If C200 contacted me, I would definitely be interested in a discussion, but I’m not counting on their funding,” Dr. Russell said.

“I’m interested in having conversations with people who share my values ​​and who might want to donate.”

Campaign finance for independents has come under scrutiny this week after it emerged that independent MP for Warringah Zali Steggall, who stood on a climate platform and has inspired the Voices movement, did not disclose a six-figure political donation from the family trust of a multimillionaire coal. investor.

A vocal critic of the Morrison government’s handling of COVID-19 in elderly care, Dr Russell said she was also passionate about climate change policy.

“Australia must cut emissions by 75% by 2030 to contribute its fair share to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” she said.

Dr Russell contested Cooper’s seat in North Melbourne in 2019 for Fiona Patten’s Reason Party, winning just 2% of the vote.

She lives in Mount Martha on property that had belonged to her grandparents since 1935.

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