30-year-old from political dynasty could set up Kooyong battle as Frydenberg mulls ‘anguishing’ call

30-year-old from political dynasty could set up Kooyong battle as Frydenberg mulls ‘anguishing’ call

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The Oxford-educated grand-niece of former Victorian premier Sir Rupert “Dick” Hamer is weighing a bid to be the Liberal candidate for Kooyong, as former treasurer Josh Frydenberg mulls a tricky call to win back the seat he once held.

Several senior Liberal sources – who, like others in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail tightly held plans – said Amelia Hamer, 30, had in recent weeks held discussions with local party members about a potential run.

Amelia Hamer would start as rank underdog should Josh Frydenberg, who now works in the private sector, return to the political fray.Credit: Eamon Gallagher, Instagram

However, she has not made a final decision to nominate for the inner-eastern Melbourne seat that the party had held from its inception until it was caught up in the teal wave at the 2022 election, when independent Dr Monique Ryan ousted Frydenberg.

Hamer would start as rank underdog should Frydenberg, who now works in the private sector, return to the political fray. While some associates of Frydenberg believe he will run, he has told some friends he is more likely not to despite the urging of many local Liberals for another tilt.

Kooyong sources said Frydenberg had raised money since his loss, in the event he were to recontest the seat.

Hamer is viewed by her allies as a first-rate talent. She is director of strategy at the most valuable Melbourne-founded tech start-up, Airwallex, has worked for Liberal senator Jane Hume, began her career at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and studied philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford.

A long-time Kooyong member said Hamer represented much-needed generational renewal in the Victorian division and the party would be lucky to have her in its ranks.

“The reality is Josh lost a seat that a Liberal has held since Federation, he misread the play, and I don’t think he can win the seat back,” the source said.

Nominations for preselection opened on Monday, even though the next federal election is due between August 2024 and May 2025. Frydenberg would probably wait as long as possible to declare his candidacy, but party president Greg Mirabella and federal chiefs Peter Dutton and Andrew Hirst have emphasised the need for a speedy process in internal party forums.

Frydenberg remains very active in the local party organisation, according to former senator Rod Kemp, who chairs the Kooyong federal electorate conference.

“I expect there’ll be a number of people who throw their hats into the ring. Josh remains very active in the party. He is very well-liked in Kooyong and I hope he will put his hat in the ring,” Kemp said.

One Liberal familiar with Frydenberg’s thinking said he was torn between his ambition to lead the Liberal Party, enjoying working in the private sector and spending more time with his young children, and the fear of losing the seat a second time, in what was proving to be an “anguishing” decision for the 52-year-old.

“If we win Kooyong back, it probably means we have won government. In that case, he becomes a minister and not in the job [Liberal leader] he wants. It’s a big risk to take for himself and his family,” the source said.

“He’s playing for time but the clock is ticking down. Hamer’s [potential] candidacy forces his hand.”

If he were to spurn a re-run, a wider field of candidates, including Lucas Moon, a former state candidate in the electoral district of Richmond, would probably emerge. A looming redraw of the boundaries of federal seats could have major implications for Kooyong, potentially changing voter demographics.

Ryan has had a bumpy first term, a significant chunk of which was spent focused on a legal fight with her former chief of staff, Sally Rugg.

Hamer, who declined to comment, is in the party’s Higgins branch but is in the process of moving to Kooyong.

Hamer’s great-uncle served as Victorian premier from 1972-81 and represented the seat of Kew, which sits within Kooyong’s boundaries. Her grandfather, David Hamer, was a senator for Victoria and lived in Hawthorn, while her great-grandfather, Sir William McPherson, was Victorian premier in the late 1920s.

Other Liberal MPs who lost their inner-Melbourne seats at the 2022 election may also run again. In Goldstein (held by teal MP Zoe Daniel), former MP Tim Wilson will probably run and will face a preselection challenge from Stephanie Hunt, while in Higgins (held by Labor), former MP Katie Allen will likely be challenged by Will Stoltz.

All the prospective challengers – Hamer, Stoltz and Hunt – are much younger than the former MPs.

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