Bondi View

Taking Wentworth forward

Left to right: Matthew Robertson, Di Smith and Malcolm Turnbull

Left to right: Matthew Robertson, Di Smith and Malcolm Turnbull

With only two days until Saturday’s Federal Election, leadership is key as three candidates step up to the challenge to take Wentworth forward.

Speaking at the 2013 Sir John Monash Oration in July, Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull said political leadership is as much about policy performance as it is about adaptability and management.

“Effective leadership today requires us to be more open minded … we have to be more prepared than ever to abandon our long held assumptions and practices,” he said.

Having held the federal seat of Wentworth since 2004, Mr Turnbull said economic management is vital, affirming the Coalition will restore budget discipline and remove the cost of unnecessary regulation on Australian business.

“There is a tendency in government to add regulations but never get rid of the old ones, so it tends to grow and grow like toxin,” he said.

The Coalition’s aim is to increase productivity, reduce cost of living pressures and slash the 21,000 new regulations imposed under Labor.

“Talk to someone in the child care or aged care industry [and you can see] the huge additional amount of regulation that has been imposed on them,” Mr Turnbull said.

Regarding local issues, Mr Turnbull said he is passionately committed to fighting for more responsible environmental and economic policies in Wentworth.

“I am a politician who was born and bred in this community,” he said.

“I’ve played a constructive role at the federal level in government as a reformer, particularly with these huge water reforms we undertook in 2007.

“The national plan for water security really revolutionised the way water’s managed, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin.”

Labor Candidate Di Smith said voters should look to the leadership displayed by the Rudd Government since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, which helped Australia build an economy that is the envy of the rest of the world.

“Life is better under a Labor government – Labor builds up Australia,” she said.

“The Rudd Government steered us through [the Global Financial Crisis] … we didn’t go under and that’s absolutely due to the good management of the time.”

Greens candidate Matthew Robertson said state and federal governments have increasingly focused on economic development, overlooking heritage protection in Wentworth.

“We have many heritage items of national significance, and many heritage streetscapes that are simply divine,” he said.

“As a Greens Councillor [for Paddington Ward], I have championed heritage protection in Woollahra.

“I am the youngest councillor at Woollahra, so I bring a Gen Y perspective to the chamber. This is vital if Council is to reflect the values and aspirations of the whole community.

“I have worked with local activist groups and in the gay community in Wentworth to bring new and fresh perspectives to the table.”

Mr Robertson said a reliance on the private sector to provide childcare has resulted in poorer quality care through higher staff-to-child ratios and a chronic shortage of services offered for children aged 0-2 in Wentworth.

Mr Robertson advocates for increased public investment in renewable energy alternatives and an emissions trading scheme.

He said the Greens would take on climate change by committing to a reduction of up to 50 per cent on carbon emissions by 2020.

“We inhabit the continent most vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” Mr Robertson said.

“Wentworth covers an area particularly susceptible to sea level rise. As our population density increases in Wentworth, our public open spaces will be under even more pressure.

“We should resist the push for more built form in these spaces and engage the public in the design and care of native plantings,” he said.

Ms Smith said the success of Labor’s environmental policy distinguishes them from other parties.

“Since our government introduced a carbon pricing scheme last year, emissions from electricity production have fallen to a 10-year low while hydro power, wind power and other renewable sources of energy are on the rise,” she said.

“Our policy in that area is working and that sets us apart.”

But Ms Smith is adamant the focus for Labor is first and foremost on education.

“Education [is] the basis on which you build a country,” she said.

“It’s about training the next generation and we are committed to implementing the Gonski reform whereas the Coalition [will] only support the first two years, not the four recommendations of the report and I don’t think you can trust an Abbott government even to do that.”

Ms Smith said she would make childcare a tax deduction, arguing it would be “a win-win situation” for parents and childcare workers.

Leading up to this Saturday’s ballot, Ms Smith compared the Wentworth election to a relay.

“I believe that Wentworth can be won,” she said.

“A friend once said to me as we get older, the races we run become less sprints and marathons, they become a relay. Get ready to take that baton.”

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