MP walks, talks for a good cause

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Mobile minister: Flinders MP Greg Hunt began his 500km charity walk around his electorate on Monday. He sees the walk as part of his role as both a local MP and Health Minister. And, right on cue, his mobile phone range as soon as Mr Hunt and supporters started the trek at Rosebud. First stop was nearby Padua College, one of 50 schools he plans to visit during his 17 days on the road. Picture: Gary Sissons

Flinders MP Greg Hunt took the first steps on a planned 500 kilometre walk on Monday.

The walk around his Flinders electorate will no doubt be a welcome change to the past few months in Canberra which saw him fail to attain the deputy leadership in the bid for the top job by Peter Dutton.

In the turmoil that followed, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was eventually replaced as the leader of the Liberals, and Australia, by former treasurer Scott Morrison.

Both Mr Hunt and Mr Dutton were subsequently reappointed to their respective portfolios – health for Mr Hunt and home affairs Mr Dutton – by their new leader, Mr Morrison.

But the reverberations of the coup and its outcome continued with the loss of the Wentworth, Mr Turnbull’s old seat, in a by-election, to independent Kerryn Phelps.

The same set of circumstances sees the now-retired-from-politics Mr Turnbull dispatched to Bali this week by Mr Morrison to help explain to Indonesia the Australian government’s decision during the by-election to reassess its previous opposition to recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The US took that step in December last year.

Mr Hunt’s 29 October – 16 November walk to raise money for the Abacus Learning Centre and Light Up Autism Foundation is described by his media officer Mathew Langdon as a “formal work event”.

“In fact, rather than taking time off or leave, it involves continuous electorate and portfolio work over weekdays and weekends”.

The journey will see Mr Hunt visit 50 schools, described by Mr Langdon as “a core part of the duties of any MP” and probably a record in such a short time by “any member of parliament in their electorate at federal or state level”. “If the minister were on leave he could not appropriately visit schools and not continue portfolio business,” Mr Langdon said.

“It is in fact perhaps the most intense formal work period of his term. Indeed, he could be criticised for visiting schools other than in his official capacity.

“In short, the office anticipates that for the 18 days of the walk, including consecutive weekends, the minister will work approximately 16 hours a day both on the walk, constituent duties and portfolio responsibilities.”

Mr Hunt’s first 500km walk around his electorate in 2004 raised $65,000 for diabetes research; in 2007 more than $55,000 was raised again for diabetes research; a third walk in 2011 raised $35,000 for the Abacus Learning Centre in Hastings and Autism Victoria; and in 2015 $75,000 was raised for the Abacus Learning Centre and Amaze (Autism Victoria).

Anyone can join Mr Hunt on any part of the walk by calling his electorate office on 5977 9082 to discuss where and when to meet him.

A sausage sizzle will be held to mark the walk’s end at 5pm Friday 16 November at the Abacus Learning centre, 74 Victoria Street, Hastings.

Donations can be made at www.givenow.com.au/GHWALK or call 5979 8891 and quote GHWALK.

First published in the Western Port News – 30 October 2018

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