The Hon. Dr. Christine Imelda Rogers Hinkle (b. August 4, 1949), is a Georgeland politician. She has held a number of ministerial portfolios in several governments, most recently serving as Minister for Finance and Economic Development in the government of Zoe Parker. On 27 Feburary 2007, Hinkle resigned from the Cabinet citing conflict with the Prime Minister and her Cabinet colleagues.
Hinkle represents the seat of Durham in inner Doubledance. She has held her seat since 1987. Hinkle is currently an member of the Georgeland Alliance, but has also represented her seat for the Liberal Democratic Party of the United Islands (2004-2007) United Islands Liberal Party (1999-2004) and the Georgeland Party (1987-1999), of which she was the last leader before its dissolution. She was an independent MP for one week, from 2-9 April 2007. Hinkle is heralded by party devotees as one of the founders and architects of the Liberal Democratic Party through its predecessor, the Liberals; some, however, claim Hinkle's ideology was too conservative for an ostensibly leftist government. In April 2007, Hinkle resigned her party membership, and announced she was joining the Georgeland Alliance a week later, reversing a previous announcement she would contest her seat as an independent.
Hinkle was born in Huzzah, East Mainland (though at the time Mainland was still a single state), on August 4, 1949. Her father Joseph was an Anglican minister who served in North Africa during World War II and later became a leading professor of Theology; her mother, Sarah, worked as a legal secretary until her marriage in 1948. Hinkle has two younger brothers.
Hinkle was educated at a private girl's school in Doubledance and had an ambition from an early age to be a doctor. In 1968, Hinkle entered the University of Mainland's Medical School, and became a fully-fledged M.D. in 1980 after several years working through college in a variety of jobs; while working in hospitals and clinics, Dr. Hinkle also moonlighted as a street performer and acted semi-professionally in a number of plays.
Hinkle worked as a medical doctor for five years, marrying fellow doctor James Hinkle (b. 1943) in the process. The marriage ended in divorce in 1990. While still a student, Hinkle joined the Georgeland Medical Association and became its President in 1985; at the age of 36 she was the GMA's youngest President for thirty years and the first woman to hold the position. She gave up her practice in order to fill the role of GMA President.
In 1986, Hinkle was selected by the Georgeland Party to be its candidate for the seat of Durham at the 1987 general election. The Georgeland Party won 12 seats at the ballot, doubling their total from the previous Parliament. As a medical expert, Hinkle was immediately made the party's spokesperson on Health; she also served as Womens Affairs and Environment spokesperson. She became Deputy Leader on May 17 1994.
Georgeland Party leadership
Hinkle was elected unopposed to succeed Michael Bowman as the leader of the Georgeland Party on April 12, 1996. She was the first woman to lead a political party in Parliament, though a woman (Janice Cole had led the Democrats in the Senate. Hinkle was to be the party's last leader. Under her leadership, the party shifted more ideologically towards the Centre, as opposed to the Centre-right position it has occupied under Bowman and Hughes. Critics have suggested this shift was more a political move than an idealogical one. Hinkle's deputy leader, Xavier McLaren and herself became very active media spokespeople for their party. However, through the Georgeland legislative election, 1997 and First Georgeland legislative election, 1999 elections, the seat total of the Georgeland Party dropped from 26 to 19, Hinkle's leadership came under pressure and it appeared as if the party was in decline.
Creation of the Liberals
In 1999, before the October election to dissolve the conflict between Houses, Hinkle entered negotiations for a coalition or support deal with the Labour supporters of Campbell Rhodes who had quit their party room. During the constitutional crisis, Hinkle maintained that the President, Susan O'Byrne, should take a more active role. A week after the walk-out, Hinkle and Rhodes announced that their parties would form a 'permanent alliance' and a 'shared party room', pending an official merger under the name "Liberal Party". Party members narrowly approved the merger in November, though many quit in protest. Hinkle became Deputy Leader of the new party, and was made Minister for Health. For some time, Hinkle was seen as Rhodes' natural successor.
Hinkle was reshuffled into the position of Minister for Finance in 2000, and made Home Affairs minister in 2001. After Rhodes' resignation in 2001, Hinkle ran for the leadership of the party but lost to Michael Elderton. She retained her position as Deputy Leader, though many considered her chances of ever becoming leader increasingly remote. Hinkle had always had a caustic, rather adversarial relationship with Rhodes; she is reported to have got on rather better with Elderton, as both leaders had roughly similar political views. Hinkle maintained a lower public profile throughout Elderton's year in office, despite a more prominent position in government.
In August 2001, when Campbell Rhodes regained the leadership, Hinkle was replaced as deputy leader by Zoe Parker. Hinkle remained Home Affairs minister.
Conflict with Rhodes
Rhodes and Hinkle maintained a frosty relationship, with wildly different styles and personalities. The 'honeymoon' of the Liberal Party's initial merger was now long over, and elements within her own faction began to suggest separation once again. The conflict remained bubbling throughout Rhodes' second period in office, but culminated just prior to the 2005 election. According to sources printed in the Santa Christina Herald in May 2006, Hinkle demanded Rhodes step down from the leadership, citing his autocratic style and foreign policy as reasons. Rhodes refused, and threatened to fire Hinkle. After the election, Hinkle was removed from the ministry and sent to the backbench. At the election, Hinkle's margin in her constituency was slightly decreased; there had been suggestions she might lose her seat, one of the most marginal in the nation.
Hinkle remained dormant in Parliament until May 19, 2005. On that day, Hinkle launched a scathing attack on Rhodes on the floor of the House of Commons. She accused him of threatening her through the Chief Whip (Robbie Jones), and of arrogance, narrow-mindedness and declared she had no confidence in his leadership. A full Hansard text can be found [].
Following the speech, Hinkle declared she would not sit as a Liberal Democrat until The next day, the Opposition moved a vote of no-confidence in the government, prompted by Hinkle's actions. Speculation was rife that Hinkle's supporters might vote with the Conservatives and bring down the government. Rhodes survived the vote, taken on May 23, with Hinkle and Adam St. John voting with the Tories. By then it was generally considered the Prime Minister was severely weakened and on the way out, and Hinkle was considered to be the primary cause of his downfall. Rhodes resigned from office on August 31.
Hinkle was immediately offered, and accepted, the position of Minister for Home Affairs in Zoe Parker's government. Since Parker's ascention to office, Hinkle has kept a very low public profile. Hinkle is said to have similar concerns with Parker as she did with Rhodes, but so far no details have emerged. A Santa Christina Herald source claimed in May 2006 that Hinkle has been 'all but excluded' from Cabinet decisions and that she 'rarely attends' meetings of the National Security Committee, the Cabinet committee consisting of the PM, Deputy PM, Treasurer, Attorney General and the Ministers for Defence, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.
On January 27, 2007, Hinkle resigned from the Cabinet, citing 'conflict' with her colleagues and with the Prime Minister. Hinkle stopped short of directly criticising her colleagues, but stated that she 'no longer felt she could work as part of this government'. The resignation follows almost a year of reports Hinkle has been excluded from many aspects of government, and that her performance as a minister has been seen as unsatisfactory. Hinkle will continue to serve on the back bench and will contest her seat of Durham at the 2007 election.
On April 2, 2007, Hinkle declared she would leave the Liberal Democrats and sit in the Commons as an Independent MP. She announced she would contest Durham as an Independent.
A New Direction
Only a week after this announcement, Hinkle declared she would instead join the Georgeland Alliance, becoming its second Member of Parliament and contesting Durham under that banner. This ended months (if not years) of speculation on such an action.
Speculation about Hinkle joining the Alliance had been rife for some time prior to her resignation. Pary leader Michael Elderton had even offered words of encouragement for her to do so. When Hinkle and Elderton made a joint statement to the press about Hinkle's new political direction, speculation immediately suggested she would become the party's deputy leader after the party's national conference in May. Hinkle refused to rule out such an option.
After she joined the Alliance, Hinkle was made the party's spokesman on Health, Aged Care, Childcare, Family Services, Welfare and Social Security. She is effectively the party's deputy leader in the House of Commons, though the party's deputy leadership remains with Senator Katherine Doody.
Hinkle is seen as the overwhelming front-runner to replace Elderton as leader should the leadership position fall vacant.
In May 2007, the East Mainland state secretary of the LDP declared that Hinkle's seat of Durham was one of the seats the party would be targeting during the upcoming election campaign. The election was very close in Hinkle's seat, but Hinkle was re-elected on Conservative preferences, giving her a 0.4% margin and making Durham the most marginal seat in the nation.
Dr. Hinkle has centrist, possibly somewhat right-of-centre views. She is an economic rationalist, or neo-liberal, and errs on the conservative side of social policy. She opposed the legislation to legalise same-sex marriage in the party room, but supported the bill and voted for it in Parliament. Hinkle also takes a hard line against drugs and juvenile offenders.
Hinkle was baptised an Anglican, but converted to Methodism in 1982 upon her marriage. Hinkle has said she has a "very strong faith and spiritual connection". She attends Church regularly on Sundays, and is active in her Church community.