By ALLISON HORE
Dave Shamra (Liberals)
After his party lost the seat in last year’s Wentworth by-election, the pressure is on for Liberal candidate Dave Sharma to win it back. And with less than 2,000 votes after preferences separating Mr Sharma from the winner, Dr Kerryn Phelps, winning it back is certainly possible.
Mr Sharma’s campaign this year involves rebranding himself as a “modern Liberal,” one who believes in scientific value and wants action on climate change. His campaign posters don’t even carry the usual Liberal Party logo.
“It’s really just about who I am,” he told the Guardian when asked about the new label.
“In the by-election, there was a sense of, ‘we just don’t know who you are’. But now people know me a bit better and they know my views and outlook are forward-looking, pragmatic and focused on future problems.”
Born in Canada, Mr Sharma moved to Sydney’s northern suburbs with his family when he was young. After graduating from high school, Mr Sharma attended Cambridge University in the UK where he completed both a Bachelor and Master of Arts. He also completed a Masters of International Relations at Deakin University.
From diplomat to businessman
Mr Sharma is a former diplomat, and was the Australia’s Ambassador to Israel between 2013 and 2017. Now he is a businessman, chairing the board of an Israeli technology company and leading another government relations and accounting firm.
Last year, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull came under fire from some Liberal Party members for failing to offer anything other than “token support” to Mr Sharma in his bid for the seat of Wentworth. Mr Turnbull had been a very popular representative in the area before his exit following the leadership spill.
But after a chance encounter at the Rose Bay wharf, Mr Turnbull wished Mr Sharma luck in the coming election.
“Amazing who you see at a commuter stop! Great to run into an old friend @TurnbullMalcolm down at the #RoseBay wharf this morning,” Mr Sharma tweeted.
His tweet elicited Mr Turnbull’s reply, “Great to see you Dave! Good luck on the 18th of May”.
Will the online wishes of the former Prime Minister be enough to pull Mr Sharma over the line?
Tim Murray (Labor)
Running for the Labor party is economist and entrepreneur Tim Murray.
Mr Murray was born in Waverly before moving to China where he developed businesses for Austrade for 20 years. He moved back to Sydney with his wife and family in 2013, and now lives in Tamarama where he is an active member of the local surf life-saving club.
For Mr Murray, it’s climate change that he feels the people of Wentworth are more concerned about, but he also sees education and broadening job opportunities for young people as crucial.
“The people of Wentworth want a sensible climate policy, a great education system, the opportunity for young people to buy a home and Indigenous recognition. At this election, there is a stark contrast between what Labor and Liberal can offer you,” Mr Murray explains on his website.
He says that while the people of Wentworth are passionate about climate change, there is more that they can do to make a difference in their community. If elected, he says he will work with the community to make this possible.
Lowest uptake of solar
“The people of Wentworth are passionate about addressing climate change, yet we have the lowest uptake rate of solar energy in the country,” his website says.
“We need to take personal responsibility for our society and the nation, and supporting a government that has a climate policy will help us do that. Together we can meet and exceed target reductions in carbon emission.”
In the last federal election, Labor candidate Evan Hughes received just under 18 per cent of the primary vote, and in last year’s Wentworth by-election, Mr Murray won only 11.5 per cent of the vote. The significant swing against Labor can be accounted for by the presence of Dr Phelps on the ballot sheet.
While this election is likely to be a two-horse race – between Dr Phelps and Mr Sharma – there are pockets of Wentworth where Labor maintains a majority. In voting booths in Kings Cross and Surry Hills, Labor came out on top.