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The Hon. Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister



SUBJECTS; Wentworth by-election; Dave Sharma; Liberal Party;

PRIME MINISTER: Well its’ wonderful to be here with Dave Sharma, the Liberal candidate selected last night by the Party members. The best candidate in the field quite clearly and I want to commend him for his win last night. But there’s a much biggest contest now ahead of us, as Dave and I know.

This is a very special place for me as you probably have gathered. I’ve bumped into some people I haven’t seen for quite some time, this is where I grew up. In the Bogey Hole where I used to swim with my grandfather. My mother taught me to swim over in the pool. Jenny and I bought our first house just behind the shops up there, in Pacific Street. But the other reason I wanted to come here today, is this place has a very significant impact on my life, even in public life today. That’s because over 45 years ago, my father went into local council. The reason he did it, is because all of those shops that are up there - which are still the same shops that with a 40 odd years ago - they were going to knock them all down and they were going to build high-rise apartments. Dad said, he was approached to run for council, because he didn’t want to see that happen. He always knew this place and our family lived in this area for a long period of time before I moved down to the Shire. This was always a family beach. It was always a family park, it was where families came together. They didn’t want to see that change.

So dad went into public life as a councillor, an alderman as they were known back then. He served as the local mayor, he did a lot of work with the local church in the community and youth in the area. He served as the local Police Commander here at Waverly, for some time. There’s a lovely plaque which you’ve seen which marks Dad’s service to the community. He set me an example about what service to Australia was all about and the community. I know that Dave will set the same example as our Liberal candidate, as he puts himself forward to the people of Wentworth at this by-election, this very important by-election.

The people of Wentworth, I know, know that you’ve always got to pick the best person for the job. That's what we’ve able to do last night. I have said all week that I wanted the Liberal Party members to make their pick and they have made their pick. They have made great pick. Dave has an extraordinary

background and experience working overseas, here in Australia, in business, in diplomatic circles, in the Pacific, in United States, over in the Middle East. He has an exemplary track record. He’s one of the few blokes who actually can walk into a room and pretty much always be the smartest person in the room, he got 100 in his TER. He’s certainly going to have that advantage taking issues forward.

This is an electorate of job creators. There are over 100,000 people in this electorate who work and have jobs and pay taxes. There are some 29,000 small businesses in this electorate. This is an electorate of people who have worked hard for their success. In that success we always want Australians who have a go, to get a go. We want them to be able to keep more of what they earn. In this by-election there will be a great opportunity to showcase the difference. Where we can say; “We want all Australians to do better.”

We don't want to see some Australians punished with higher taxes, so other Australians can get an opportunity, we believe all Australians can get an opportunity. We want small businesses to have that opportunity. We want Australians, whether they’re living here in Wentworth, or the Shire or any part of Australia, to be able to go and create those opportunities for others. So that’s what we will be focusing on here out to the by-election on 20th of October.

I also want to stress this will be a very, very, very tight contest. I remember when Malcolm Turnbull first won this seat back in 2004, the margin was not much over 5%. At a subsequent election in 2007, it fell even further. Malcolm I want to pay tribute to for his service, not just to our country, but to his local community in Wentworth. He has worked for mental health in particular. He has worked to support local health services, local surf clubs, local community groups. While Malcolm served at every level in the Australian Parliament he never forgot his service to the local community, which he’s been a part of all his life. I think Dave and I both on behalf of Liberals in Wentworth want to say thank you to Malcolm for your service to your local community. I know that will continue with Malcolm, because he’s always been such a part of this local community.

So Dave, why don't you introduce yourself to the Australian public and more importantly to the local community?

MR DAVE SHARMA, LIBERAL PARTY CANDIDATE FOR WENTHWORTH: Thanks so much Prime Minister. I’m Dave Sharma, I’m the Liberal candidate for Wentworth. I’m looking forward to working with the Liberal team to hold on to the seat of Wentworth. It’s a very important by-election we’ve got coming up as the Prime Minister said, and it’s a tough one as well. I know I've got big shoes to fill, with Malcolm Turnbull, he's got an immense local appeal in this electorate. He did a huge amount of Wentworth, he did a huge amount for Australia and I do want to honour him and acknowledge that debt. I can assure you, I’ll be giving my all at this by-election, with the support of the Prime Minister and other senior ministers, doing our best to keep Wentworth in Liberal hands.

PRIME MINISTER: Great, well thanks Dave. He's pretty shy from what you can tell and he's a very humble guy. But his experience and capabilities really shone through last night and that's why I think we saw such strong support for him last night. I want to thank all the others who put themselves forward last night and the selectors who met until quite early in the morning. But we need to get on with the job and this is a very important by-election for the future of our economy, for the future direction of the country, really. Because what's at stake here is, if Labor are successful here, then you're one step closer to higher taxes, one step closer to higher taxes. If Dave is elected here in his first outing, then what you will see is a continued focus on an even stronger Australia, keeping our economy strong, to guarantee

the essential services Australians rely on, keeping Australians safe and keeping Australians together, of all faiths, of all backgrounds. Dave's own experience, coming as an immigrant with his father and his mum from an Indian background, part of Australia's rich multicultural society.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, haven't you basically been rolled here? Because you told your lieutenants you wanted a female candidate and some of your lieutenants were asking Mr Sharma to pull out, so isn't this a bit embarrassing for you?

PRIME MINISTER: No, I reject that because what I've said is I want to see more women in Parliament and I want to see more Liberal women in Parliament. I don't think anyone has any problem with that. But you've gotta pick the best candidate and Dave was the best candidate last night. That was clear to all the selectors.

So, you know, I'm happy to say I want to see more Liberal women in Parliament, but it's always gotta be the best candidate. That's how it works in the Liberal Party, I said all week; "I want the Liberal Party members to decide on their candidate." That's exactly what they did and I would support whichever candidate they chose. Yep?

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER: What I said was I want to see more Liberal women in Parliament, but I also want to see the best candidate. Those two issues are not contradictory. Dave was the best candidate last night and as you'll get to see, his record of service, his record of achievement, his high intellect and his ability to get the job done, I think will serve the people of Wentworth extremely well. As someone who was born here, up at the War Memorial Hospital at Waverley, I'm thrilled that they'll have the opportunity to have someone who will be able to serve as well as Malcolm Turnbull did.

JOURNALIST: Is it unhelpful though to have Malcolm Turnbull and John Howard both weighing in to a race where you've clearly made your case known?

PRIME MINISTER: I just said that I want to see more Liberal women in Parliament and I still want to see more Liberal women in Parliament. But I also want the Party to pick the best candidate and last night Dave was the best candidate. That's why he has my full support.

JOURNALIST: But how are you going to get more women into safe seats?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I go back to another great Liberal woman who lives in this electorate, Christine McDiven, who was the first female Federal President of the Liberal Party. What Chris did was that she would work with women on the ground, help them prepare for contests like last night -

JOURNALIST: Didn't she lobby for Katherine O'Regan?

PRIME MINISTER: She was a strong supporter. It's okay for people to be supporting people in the field, that's how democracy and politics works. But at the end of the day it's got to be, who is the best candidate? Dave was the best candidate last night and he's the best person to put forward in Wentworth, he has my absolute support.

JOURNALIST: But your powerbrokers almost got him to pull out, will you acknowledge that?

PRIME MINISTER: You're always into conspiracies. You're always into conspiracies, I tell you mate.

JOURNALIST: Some conspiracies are true in politics, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: What I've noticed is, there's always more conspiracies than facts. For too long I think the public have been turning the sound down on Canberra, because of not only what politicians have been up to, but frankly what a bunch of conspiracy theorists in the media have been up to, too. They're turning the sound down on you mate, as much as they’re turning the sound down on politicians. Dave Sharma is someone who will be able to cut through that, through his ability and his talent and his service to Australia, but also, by I know what will be exemplary service to the people of Wentworth.

JOURNALIST: But what about last night? Isn’t it indicative of the problems in the Liberal Party, women didn't get even get a look-in, the top three were men even though you backed Katherine O'Regan?

PRIME MINISTER: I backed ensuring that in the future we'll have more Liberal women in Parliament. I said very clearly, I wanted the selectors of Wentworth to pick the best candidate and that's what they've done. Last night, it was very clear on the reports back that I had from people who were there, that Dave, he smashed it. He absolutely smashed it last night. He demonstrated what I think the people of Wentworth will see over the next month or so before the by-election. So you've always got to pick your best candidate. That's what the party has done and so I'm rapt to have Dave Sharma in Team ScoMo.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what I would have been concerned about, is if the Liberal Party didn't put its best foot forward in this by-election, that's what the selectors are judged to do.

Look, I used to work for the Party organisation, and the Party organisation gets to choose the candidates, the parliamentary Party gets to do the work when it comes to the work of policy in government and otherwise. So everyone did their job last night. They picked the best candidate. Dave did his job by getting up there. Every candidate who put themselves forward did the right thing by putting themselves up there. The Party members have made their decision and I think they've made a cracker.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the tweet last night?


JOURNALIST: A misstep?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, look it was a bit of fun. But it's quite clear that that's not a song that's on my playlist and I think I might stick to my regular playlist, that they might pick songs from in the future. I think honestly, Tina Arena would get a good go. I saw her in Evita last night. She was... if I get started on that, we'll be here for 10 minutes. But she was outstanding. Look, we're just trying to connect honestly with people. Some of the narks will get a bit worked up about this sort of thing, but it was a bit of fun. I think people think Australians think politicians can take themselves a bit too seriously at times. They

may even make those suggestions about others who work in Canberra, not in politics directly perhaps, in the media. But what I'm going to do is just be pretty direct and front up to people. That's what Dave is going do. We'll be honest with them, we'll lay out our plans.

This is going be a very tough seat for us to hold. All the pundits last time around with the by-elections were making all sorts of ridiculous predictions about what would happen in those other by-elections and they were dead set wrong. I would encourage them this time to take a bit of a chill pill because of the reality of this seat here. I remember when John Howard, because I was the director of the Party at the time, was at one of its’ strongest points. I mean, we were holding this seat by not much more, five, six or seven per cent. This has always been a highly contested seat with the Labor Party and there's a real choice on offer here.

Do you want higher taxes, a lack of support for independent schools, do you want lukewarm positions on religious freedoms? Or do you want to ensure that small business gets the backing? I mean, I just bumped into Bob and Kay, who I knew up here. Bob and Kay ran the fish shop for many years, as you can see. Bob and Kay ran a great small business. Labor is going to increase their taxes for small business from what is currently made law at 25 per cent in the future and put it back up to 27.5 per cent. Now, that's not good for a stronger economy. That's not good for the more than 100,000 people who work here in Wentworth, pay taxes, have a job or those running businesses generating more jobs.

JOURNALIST: If you lose this seat, if you lose this seat -

PRIME MINISTER: Mate, you're speaking a bit loud. Are you alright? Are you okay? Just calm down a bit.


JOURNALIST: If you lose this seat, will you call a general election?

PRIME MINISTER: I'll call a general election in the national interest when it's due. What I understand from the Australian people is they expect governments under whatever circumstances, to serve their term. Malcolm Turnbull had that view, I have that view. We're getting on with the job.

The media will have to find something else to write about, because we'll go to an election next year. That's when it's due and we'll continue to do the work that you would expect from a Government that is focused on the needs and the interests of the Australian people. Over the next four or five weeks, we'll have a good opportunity for Dave and I and my colleagues to be having a chat about a lot of those issues down here.

But the one thing that will always keep me focused, is remembering a place like this. This is a place that was able to kept as a family place for the last 40 years, because my dad decided to step up with others on that council and make sure it stayed that way. That decision has always stayed with me and I think that's a great thing to guide me and Dave in our service to Australia and our communities.

It's been great to be here. Thanks very much.


Contacts: Press Office, (02) 6277 7700 The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Sydney