It's just another weekday evening at the Gymea Tradies in southern Sydney seat of Cook. The members’ bar is empty apart from the bartender wiping the pint glasses that have just come out of the dishwasher. The footy match on a massive television and the ticking of the clock on the wall add to the monotony.
Nathan Hunt, The Greens candidate for Cook, appears nervous at first. Born and raised in the Sutherland Shire, Mr. Hunt works as a client services representative at a freight forwarding company in Taren Point. He has lived in Cronulla for 20 years. He's relatively new to politics.
It was always going to be either Labor or the Greens for him. He grew up in a politically engaged household. His parents had been Labor Party members since the Whitlam era. He agreed with a lot of Labor policies but realised the Greens actually represented more of his beliefs. He has been with the Greens now for about three years.
“[My parents] are happy for me,” he told UniPollWatch. “When I ran for the state election last year, I wanted them to hand out Greens pamphlets for me. And it was actually very good. A lot of their friends I’d met through the campaign at the state [election]. It was quite friendly.”
Despite, or perhaps because of his low-key approach, Hunt performed well at the 2015 state polls, winning 9.1% of first preference votes in the seat of Cronulla. The Liberals’ Mark Speakman won with 61.9%, with Labor’s Peter Scaysbrook second with 21.9%.
Mr. Hunt slowly opens up as the interview progresses. The policy areas that interest him include the treatment of refugees, the effects of climate change on the environment, “the scourge” of domestic violence on families, and cuts to the funding of domestic violence support services.
One political observer, Dr. Bligh Grant of the University of Technology Sydney, expects to see the sitting member in Cook, Treasurer Scott Morrison go backwards at the coming polls.
"I would expect Scott Morrison will still win the electorate, but the margin would possibly decrease due to his conservative policies. And Nathan Hunt could increase his margin if he runs a good campaign.”
The Greens candidate's taste for the political hunt has been whetted by his experiences so far, even the at times difficult task of getting people to sign petitions.
“It was quite phenomenal the amount of people that actually cared. I remember an old guy walking across. I had a big ‘Farms Not Coal’ t-shirt on, and a petition. He just veered his line to walk straight towards me. He was pulling his glasses out and he went, ‘I want to sign that’. So those sorts of things, you just go ‘I’m doing something good here. I’m doing the right thing,’” Mr. Hunt said.