Federal Politics

The gun-toting, gay marriage-opposing Nationals senator...who lives in the inner city

She's the gun-toting, gay marriage-opposing Victorian Nationals senator who wants two ABC board members to be based in the regions.

But Bridget McKenzie's home is in the leafy inner Melbourne suburb of Elwood, with the register of senators' interests revealing the senator purchased a property in Elwood in November 2014.

Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie bought her Elwood property in 2014.
Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie bought her Elwood property in 2014. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

And in fact, a spokesman for the senator - a fierce public advocate for regional Australia who is regularly described as Bendigo-based - confirmed she had never lived in the former Victorian gold rush town, despite her office being situated there.

First elected in August 2010, Senator McKenzie stays in a hotel when she visits Bendigo and, according to her spokesman, she has been looking for a flat to buy in Bendigo but "at this time the only full-time residence is Elwood".

Senator McKenzie's website, with the senator surrounded by the Bendigo skyline
Senator McKenzie's website, with the senator surrounded by the Bendigo skyline Photo: bridgetmckenzie.com.au

Elwood is 160 kilometres from Bendigo and is not considered to be "regional".

Senator McKenzie did grow up in Gippsland, in country Victoria and, as a senator, she does represent the entire state.


"Bridget has not owned a house in Bendigo or rented there or lived there permanently. She has lived in Leongatha and Ballarat. She has been searching for a unit to buy in Bendigo since last November. The office is based in Bendigo through a decision by the National Party management and Bendigo is obviously a key location for regional Victoria," the spokesman said.

Despite being based in Elwood, Senator McKenzie wrote a letter to the Australian Financial Review on January 20 - giving her location as Bendigo - that said she was "disappointed when television executives cannot recognise rural and regional advocacy when presented to them".

A scene from Elwood, inner-Melbourne.
A scene from Elwood, inner-Melbourne.  Photo: Jesse Marlow

She attacked the concentration of media organisations in capital cities and lamented the "contraction in local content and physical presence" of media organisations in regional Australia.

However at the 2013 federal election, the National Party did not stand a candidate in the seat of Melbourne Ports, which is held by Labor, coveted by the Liberals and, increasingly, being eyed-off by the Greens too.

Senator McKenzie pictured at the Canberra International Clay Target Club.
Senator McKenzie pictured at the Canberra International Clay Target Club. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Last week Senator McKenzie was in the news when, in a car crash press conference, she had to be asked seven times which way she would vote on same-sex marriage if a plebiscite endorsed a law change.

Eventually, she said she would vote against same-sex marriage, in accordance with her conscience.

Fairfax Media spoke to several businesses on and around Hargreaves Street in Bendigo, where the senator's office is based.

Paul Tzountzourkas, the owner of the nearby Music Man Megastore, said that "honestly, I haven't seen her. I have seen the office in the mall but haven't seen her".

Nearby Dinky-Di Shoes owner "Ross", however, said he "had seen her in the shop a couple of times, she is very approachable, she is a good local member".

Labor MP Lisa Chesters, who does live in Bendigo, said that it had become a "running joke in Bendigo, the absent senator".

"It is disappointing that Bridget is not in Bendigo often for people to meet with her, if she was she would understand the concerns of regional Victorians," she said when approached by Fairfax Media about the senator's residence.

"When she is in town word goes around, 'try and get a meeting'. It's not fair and it's not right, we understand she is a senator for Victoria but when your office is in Bendigo, people hope to have a direct relationship with you."

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