How A Former Liberal Candidate Could Cost The Coalition A Crucial Seat
Scott Morrison is facing an unexpected insurgency that he reluctantly created and now cannot control.
Less than 24 hours after dumping the disgraced Liberal candidate for Lyons in Tasmania, young Jessica Whelan announced she will fight on as an independent, becoming a thorn and distraction the Coalition knows it cannot afford.
In a wide-ranging Facebook posts, Whelan maintains she is still in with a shot.
"I can still WIN the seat of LYONS! " she wrote.
" I put my hand up and put my life on hold to represent the people of Lyons... I was polling extremely well and was on track to win the seat on the 18th May."
The now independent also begged for support, having received death threats following her anti-Islamic posts.
"My page has been removed, my signs will probably be coming down, my advert will be coming off air, I have no promotional material and absolutely no professional support or donations. I don't even have any 'How To Vote' cards to hand out at polling booths".
Her continued campaigning will likely splinter the Coalition vote. Perhaps most alarmingly for the Prime Minister, Whelan also appears intent on undermining the prospect of her replacement winning the seat.
"The people of Lyons deserve a representative who will fight for their needs in Canberra...not toe the party line... particularly the Labor Party line (sic)."
Whelan was disendorsed by her party after several social media posts emerged of her criticising Islam and calling for Muslims to be banned from emigrating to Australia.
While she accepts responsibility, she continues to deny liability for the worst post that calls for Islamic women who follow Sharia Law to have their genitals mutilated. She insists that post was 'digitally doctored' and asked for it to be referred to the Australian Federal Police.
The seat of Lyons is currently held by Labor MP Brian Mitchell on the slim margin of 3.8 percent. It's one of three marginal seats including Braddon (1.7 percent) and Bass (5.4 percent) often referred to as the 'Three Amigos' that the coalition hopes to win back.
With the Government currently sitting on the notional number of 73 seats and Labor 72 seats following boundary redistributions, Tasmania has become a key battleground as both parties clammer to reach the magical number of 76 seats to claim control of the lower house, and with it, the keys to The Lodge.