Greens to run Oxford-educated lawyer against Peter Dutton

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights former national president Benedict Coyne to run in seat of Dickson

The Greens have chosen an Oxford-educated human rights lawyer to contest Peter Dutton’s federal seat of Dickson, adding another dimension to what promises to be one of the most anticipated contests of the election.

The home affairs minister holds the electorate on Brisbane’s northern fringe with a margin of about 2%. The activist group GetUp has already launched a well-funded campaign to unseat Dutton, and Labor and the union movement will also pour significant resources into the seat.

The Greens announced on Tuesday morning that Benedict Coyne would stand in Dickson.

The Greens candidate for Dickson, Benedict Coyne
The Greens candidate for Dickson, Benedict Coyne. Photograph: Benedict Coyne

Coyne, the former national president of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, will be among the party’s best-credentialled candidates. He will be running in an outer-suburban seat where the Greens have rarely polled more than 10%.

“The people of Dickson haven’t seen real representation in a long time,” Coyne said. “Peter Dutton repeatedly voted against the banking royal commission, against the interests of families and small business in Dickson.

“Dutton has voted to abolish Sunday and public holiday penalty rates.

“Dutton has advocated to decrease university funding and increase university fees, he’s voted against the reef, he’s voted against the NBN and voted against increasing the aged-pension.”

Coyne won the university medal at Southern Cross University and studied for a masters at Oxford University in 2015.

Dutton has hired Geoffrey Greene, a former Liberal state director in Queensland and South Australia, to run his campaign against a growing number of opponents and activist groups.

His main challenge in Dickson will come from Labor’s candidate, Ali France, a former journalist and disability advocate who has previously been critical of Australia’s offshore detention policy.

The Greens are not a realistic chance of winning in Dickson. At the Longman byelection last month, the party polled 4.81% in the neighbouring seat.

The Greens will pitch Coyne to the electorate as Dutton’s polar opposite. Lead Senate candidate Larissa Waters said Coyne “has spent his working life standing up for the community” while Dutton “represents the most inhumane aspects of our society”.

Waters’s campaign for the Senate will be the Greens’ main focus at the next election, and party sources say she will spend plenty of time campaigning with Coyne in Dickson.

The Greens’ main chance to win a Queensland lower-house seat is in Brisbane, the inner-north electorate where Andrew Bartlett is the candidate. Brisbane is shaping as a three-way contest.

Party sources say the Greens also expect to poll strongly in Griffith, the inner-south Brisbane seat, and Ryan, a traditional Liberal National party stronghold in the city’s west.


Ben Smee

The GuardianTramp

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