Craig Kelly is set to face a new challenger in the battle for the blue ribbon seat of Hughes when corporate litigator Georgia Steele announces her candidacy today.
The independent hopes to emulate the campaigns run by Zali Steggall in Warriangah and Helen Haines in Indi but faces an uphill battle against the cashed-up Kelly and expected Liberal candidate Melanie Gibbons.
Speaking with NCA Newswire ahead of her campaign launch, Ms Steele said she believed Hughes was wide open for the taking.
“I think that the Hughes electorate for the next election is going to be wide open for the first time in decades,” the mother of two said.
“It’s been a safe seat for about 25 years. It’s been taken for granted during that time as a lot of safe Liberal seats are.
“Craig Kelly has not achieved anything for the people of Hughes and that will definitely be a marker against the Liberal Party at the next election.”
Mr Kelly was elected as a Liberal candidate in 2010, before defecting to the crossbench earlier this year after he refused to stop promoting Covid misinformation. He later joined the Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party as its leader.
Greater action on climate change and a push for a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption is set to be the bedrock of the Sutherland locals campaign.
“I couldn’t sit by any longer and watch my children’s future and the future of Hughies everywhere be ignored by our federal government.”
On ICAC, Ms Steele said the current NSW hearings could be the driver the community needs to get behind it at a federal level.
“If it‘s good enough in New South Wales and every other state and territory in Australia, it’s more than good enough for the federal government.”
Ms Steele is backed by local political community group Hughes Deserves Better and is in early discussions with Simon Holmes a Court for support from Climate 200, a non-profit designed to support pro-climate independents.
In a statement, Simon Holmes a Court welcomed Ms Steele’s candidacy.
“Climate 200 applauds Georgia Steele‘s decision to stand in the seat of Hughes and we wish her well in her campaign,” Mr Holmes a Court said.
“Climate 200 looks forward to continuing discussions about support for her campaign. Hughes is going to be a seat to watch.”
But asked who she would support if elected in a hung parliament, Ms Steele remained coy: “It is a hypothetical situation,” she said.
“I would weigh up all the information and I would make the best decision that I could in the interest of my constituents.”
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