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Shayne Mallard’s love for all things communal is not new to the city of Sydney.

As the Liberal Party candidate running for the upcoming state seat of Sydney by-election, Mr Mallard is focused on delivering basic community needs.

“My strong vocational calling of community service has led me to public service to assist people and to improve their lives,” Mr Mallard says.

Aside from the pressing matters about the Sydney transport system and the health of the city’s economy, Mr Mallard cares about local community issues. He says he believes in having community gardens in the city where people can congregate and break down barriers – something not regularly seen in the big smoke that is Sydney.

So it was no surprise when he picked up the distant sound of squealing kids and chirping rosellas in the park, in the background of our phone interview.

As for the basics, Mr Mallard says: “This State contest is no Hollywood race. The city seat is for someone who can deliver the basics.”

Mr Mallard’s first set of “basics” is to strengthen the existing bus network in Sydney.

“Yes, we are aiming for the rich goal, the light rail, but in the meantime, the city can benefit from a solid bus service,” he said. “I want to make sure there is bus running to every corner in Sydney, like those to Miller’s Point and the
State Theatre.

“It is not easy to turn everything around overnight, especially when we have inherited 15 years of poor transport management. I am close to many members of Parliament and so will be able to hit the ground running.”

An avid cyclist who goes everywhere on his bicycle and does not own a car, Mr Mallard says he wants to involve all of Sydney in the cycling debate. His hope is to take the politics out of cycling.

“Cycling should not just be a Greens movement,” Mr Mallard says.

He adds that building cycleways in the city has been a significant step, and changing the public environment is not easy.

“It is particularly hard for Sydney to change because it was not a well-planned city. It is unlike places like Copenhagen, where cycleways were considered before the city was built,” Mr Mallard says.

Mr Mallard is also bent on restoring the robustness of the city’s economy.

“GST revenue is down as retail declines,” Mr Mallard says. “Even I’m not spending money … I aim to change this with increased investment in businesses.”

And there is no better man to understand this issue than Mr Mallard himself who in 1995, facilitated a career break to establish a horticulture business with his brother in Darlinghurst.

Though not always an easy path, Mr Mallard’s greatest advocacy will be for the support of gay marriage. In his political career, which began in 1993, Mr Mallard has also been a member of the AIDS Council of NSW and Council for Civil Liberties.

Mr Mallard’s journey towards the Sydney by-election started as the NSW State President of the Young Liberals in 1993, where he used the role to advocate policy ideas for youth. In 2000, he was the first Liberal elected to the former South Sydney Council and was subsequently elected to the City of Sydney Council in 2004 and 2008.

He stepped down from Council in September 2012 to contest the October 27 by-election. The move was announced after Clover Moore was forced to stand down, ironically because of Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell’s ‘Get Clover Bill’, which ensured she could not be both Lord Mayor and State member concurrently.

Mr Mallard is widely regarded as a progressive Liberal with strong civil liberty, equality, sustainability and environmental credentials. As for the basics, Mr Mallard spends his spare time with his partner Jesper, and his family who lives in Dubbo.

And there is always time for a community garden – Mr Mallard’s own garden, where he cultivates his own green thumb.