Australia

Turnbull praises 'outstanding' Julia Banks as she prepares to challenge Greg Hunt

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Malcolm Turnbull says renegade Liberal Julia Banks is an "outstanding parliamentarian" as she prepares to challenge Health Minister Greg Hunt at the election.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has given Liberal-turned-independent Julia Banks a glowing review as she prepares to face-off against Health Minister Greg Hunt at the federal election.

Mr Turnbull praised Ms Banks - who will vie for the Victorian seat of Flinders at the election instead of her current electorate of Chisholm - for being an "outstanding parliamentarian".

"She came to parliament with a life's experience as a lawyer in the business world. She is really an outstanding representative," he told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

"She's explained why she left the Liberal Party and she's done so on her own terms and I respect the decision she's taken."

Minister for Health Greg Hunt.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt.
AAP

Ms Banks defected to the crossbench after last year's leadership coup and after much speculation last week confirmed she would recontest the election as an independent.

She has vowed to put climate change and gender equality front and centre of her campaign against one of her former colleagues.

"I believe the people of Flinders will have a very stimulating contest between her and Greg Hunt and no doubt the other candidates," Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Hunt was one of Peter Dutton's key backers in his challenge to Mr Turnbull's leadership and was in line to be the deputy Liberal leader had the home affairs minister won the party room ballot.

The former prime minister's son, Alex Turnbull, last week confirmed he would work on Ms Banks' campaign, but denied his father was involved.

Ms Banks has been the member for Chisholm in Melbourne's southeast since 2016 but has moved to the Flinders electorate, where she has owned a property for the past 20 years.

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