Peter Dutton faces an army of GetUp activists who plan to door-knock one in three households in his marginal seat of Dickson.
The battle for Dickson attracted dozens of volunteers to a meeting in Brisbane on Thursday night with the goal of visiting more than 20,000 households with the message ‘Ditch Dutton’.
As the Morrison Government continues to battle spot fires, with high profile independent Julia Banks declaring she will run against Health Minister Greg Hunt, Dickson will be a key battleground.
The New Daily has confirmed the activist group has amassed a war chest of over $250,000 to fight the failed Liberal leadership aspirant.
GetUp campaign director Ruby O’Halloran told The New Daily a team of more than 150 volunteers would shortly commence door-knocking across the electorate.
“For a lot of people, Peter Dutton is just the embodiment of everything they think is wrong with Australian politics at the moment,” she said.
“A lot of people talk about the time he was health minister, when he tried to make people pay a co-payment to see their GP.
“A lot of people talk about climate change and the time he laughed at rising sea levels in the Pacific.
“Many people talk about his treatment of asylum seekers – and just the leadership coup is another huge one.”
GetUp activists’ ground campaign will help Labor’s Ali France, who is running against Mr Dutton in the seat. Ms France, who was once an outspoken critic of Labor’s offshore detention regime, was drawn to campaigning after she lost a leg in a 2011 car accident and was treated by an “amazing surgeon” who was an Iraqi refugee.
Ms O’Halloran said the lessons of grassroots US campaigns for (Democrats) and Beto O’Rourke would be used to urge voters to “Ditch Dutton”.
“There have just been so many incredible international campaigns since 2016 that have really harnessed the power of door knocking. If you look at the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign, and the Beto O’Rourke campaign in Texas that almost got rid of Ted Cruz, both of those campaigns really harnessed door-knocking.
“So, we’ve been speaking to a lot of international allies. We just decided door knocking was the most strategic way to get to voters. But I should add we are also doing phone banks, phone calls.”
“We want Peter Dutton’s race-baiting, homophobia, attacks on renewable energy and regressive economic policies out of our politics.
“We will work around the clock to make sure Dickson residents know he doesn’t deserve their vote,” she said.
GetUp admits the vulnerability of Peter Dutton took them by surprise in 2016.
“In the 2016 election his seat wasn’t marginal, he was sitting on a pretty comfortable 5.6 per cent. GetUp was actually one of the only organisations that went into Dickson hard. Even we didn’t necessarily know if we had a chance of unseating him then.
“The fact that his margin was reduced by more than double the average Queensland swing in 2016, I think that is a testament to the great campaigning that our members did there.
“And while it is true that he’s had an entire term of government to prepare for this moment, so have GetUp members. I think he’s been spending a lot more of his time focusing on causing chaos in Canberra and the failed leadership coup than addressing the needs of the people in the electorate.
“That’s going to come out on polling day.”
GetUp said the motivations of the volunteers were diverse.
GetUp volunteer Patrea Ryan said there was “a feeling in the electorate that 2019 could be a huge moment in political history.”
The Home Affairs Minister has admitted he faces a tough fight in the seat, which he secured by just 1500 votes at the last election.
“Ironically, the more they attack me personally the more people in Dickson get turned off their fanatical rants,” he said.
“GetUp is affiliated with the Greens and Labor. It’s run by left-wing extremists and to be at odds with GetUp extremists is something I wear as a badge of honour.”