Monash election: He’s my mate, not running mate, says candidate

A MONASH election candidate has admitted he doesn’t live in Victoria for most of the year.

Oakleigh ward candidate Benjamin Djung has confirmed he lives in Canberra and only returns to Melbourne twice a month.

The 19-year-old political science student called the Weekly from Canberra this afternoon to confirm he spends most of his time north of the border, where he’s in his first year of a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University.

But Mr Djung says that he will drop out of university and move back to Chadstone for the next four years if he’s elected  this month. 

‘‘If the people of Oakleigh choose to elect me, that takes precedence over my personal commitments,’’ he said.

Despite living in Canberra for most of the year, Mr Djung is still on the Victorian state electoral roll as a Chadstone resident.

Mr Djung says he was advised by a Liberal Party member he could run in the local election because he still returns to Melbourne regularly — about twice a month.

‘‘I’m not exactly sure what the exact specifications are but I do know that if I do return back to Melbourne on a regular basis I can still be classified as living in Melbourne.

‘‘I practically almost live there so I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to run.’’

In his Weekly election questionnaire, Mr Djung refused to answer whether he was a member of a political party. 

But on LinkedIn — a social media website for professionals — Mr Djung proudly lists himself as a supporter of the Liberal Party, a member of the ANU Liberal Club and a member of the Liberal Party since November 2010.

The page also reveals he has  worked as an intern with Queensland Liberal National Party senator Sue Boyce since May.

On social media website Facebook, Mr Djung is friends with Theo Zographos, the Liberal Party candidate for Oakleigh and the electorate officer of Liberal MP Graham Watt. 

The two men have been been connected on Facebook since November 2010 and share 21 mutual friends including deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop, Mr Watt, former Liberal Party member Matthew Hammon and Tony Smith, the former parliamentary secretary for John Howard and the current federal member for Casey.

This afternoon Mr Djung confirmed to the Weekly his Liberal Party membership.

‘‘The reason why I didn’t really disclose it on that questionnaire [is] because I didn’t really feel that I should have because I was running as an independent candidate.’’

‘‘In hindsight, given how it looks now, maybe I should have disclosed it.’’

Preference data reveals that if Mr Djung fails in his bid to win a seat on the council, his preferences will flow to fellow Oakleigh Ward candidate Theo Zographos.

His next four preferences flow to Christian Farinaccio, John Scannell, Tony Nalbant and Catherine Jane Ettery — all of whom also preference Mr Zographos second.

Mr Djung says that he and Mr Zographos met through the Liberal Party.

‘‘We’re really good friends, and obviously that plays as a factor into who I preference because he’s my mate, but also because he shares the same political values as I do.’’

Mr Djung rejected the notion that he and Mr Zographos are running mates. He insists he’s a genuine candidate.

‘‘I am running with the intention to win.’’

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