Frydenberg caught in 'debate lie' with opponent Dr Monique Ryan

Frydenberg caught in ‘debate lie’ with independent opponent Dr Monique Ryan

A war of words broke out over Twitter yesterday, when National Treasurer and current member for Victoria’s seat of Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg accused independent opponent, Monique Ryan of refusing a publicly televised debate with him.

“Following a request from Ch 9, I agreed to debate so-called “Independent” Monique Ryan this Thursday,” Frydenberg posted. “I welcome a fair debate in a non-partisan forum about important issues facing my community. Monique Ryan has declined Ch 9’s invite,” he added.

Frydenberg’s claims were backed up by Nine’s political correspondent, Chris Uhlman, who implied that Ryan was thwarting “transparency in public life”.

However, the allegations were quickly brought into sharper focus and disrepute when Ryan issued her own statement, claiming that the Treasurer had “pulled out of the ACTUAL Kooyong candidates forum” and that she’d “relish the opportunity to debate him on Ch9. If it’s in Kooyong (not Docklands).”

Ryan’s counter post was liked more than 10,000 times while Frydenberg’s original was like by fewer than 2000 Twitter users.

Such flimsy accusations on the behalf of Frydenberg tell the story of a man on edge– and he has every reason to be. The outcome of Kooyong could result in the biggest upset for the Coalition at next month’s federal election. With an extensive tribe of volunteer support, and huge popularity on the ground, Monique Ryan has consistently polled well.

Last week she also placed first on the ballot ticket for Kooyong, which history suggests will give her a marginal advantage– up to 2 percent. In a seat which is touted to come down to as little as 500 votes, it’s a sticky predicament for Josh Frydenberg.

Ryan is ultimately perceived as an alternative choice to a Coalition government in disarray, campaigning on greater action on climate change, national integrity and gender equality.

Speaking with Women’s Agenda only last month, Ryan spoke about the impetus for leaving her dream job as director of the neurology department at Melbourne’s Children’s Hospital for politics.

“I feel that the next three years are critical, we are at a tipping point. If we don’t act now, we’re going to lose that opportunity,” she said. “The current government doesn’t have a three-, five- or ten-year plan. It’s only plan is around its own re-election. That for me, is a source of severe frustration.”

And she’s not alone.

A host of independent candidates (principally women) have taken up shop within traditional, blue ribbon seats including North Sydney, Goldstein and Wentworth– and the Coalition is none too happy about it.

During a campaign event held within his former Sydney seat of Bennelong last week, former Coalition Prime Minister John Howard slammed the slew of “teal” independents pitching to traditional Liberal voters at this election.

“These men and women are all posing as independents. They’re not independents, they’re anti-Liberal groupies,” Howard told a crowd of Liberal supporters at the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club. “I say that because they’re not running in any Labor seats.

“If they were genuinely independent why would they not be running a candidate against Anthony Albanese in Grayndler or Tanya Plibersek in Sydney?”

Maybe because people are fed up with this government’s unending excuses and are seeking change?

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