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Sydney lawyer Shauna Jarrett wins Liberal preselection, confirms run for mayor

Shauna Jarrett revealed to City Hub her position as the Liberal frontrunner and mayoral candidate for the City of Sydney elections. Photo: LSJ

By CHRISTINE CHEN

Sydney lawyer and governance consultant Shauna Jarrett has won the Liberal preselection to become the party’s ticket front-runner and mayoral candidate for the City of Sydney election.

Shauna Jarrett defeated former Warringah mayor Sam Danieli with 77 votes to 21 to receive the party’s backing for the ticket’s top position. Jarrett also received 66 votes to Danieli’s 23 for the nomination to the mayoral candidacy. 

“The party was confident that I can bring what needs to be brought to the role … I listen to what people think and want, and then set about to make things happen,” Jarrett told City Hub.

Jarrett is a first-time political candidate but is married to politician Greg Pearce, who sat in the NSW Legislative Council from 2000 to 2017. Pearce also served as Finance Minister for two years, before being sacked by then-premier Barry O’Farrell in 2013 for his failure to disclose a perceived conflict of interest over a Sydney Water board appointment.

Sam Danieli will occupy the ticket’s third place, and entrepreneur Lyndon Gannon was selected over former Berejiklian advisor Jacqui Munro for second place. The final three places on Jarrett’s six-person ticket have yet to be decided.

“My ticket is very diverse, featuring a broad, new range of perspectives on how decisions are made and the city’s future,” Jarrett said.

The preselection vote was conducted online on June 30. While Jarrett blamed COVID-19 for the delay, reports have described the preselection process as “chaotic”, “disorganised,” and in “disarray” after erstwhile Liberal party front-runners Christine Forster and Craig Chung both announced their retirement from the City of Sydney Council.

Refreshing the Liberals

Regardless, the task of restoring the Liberal Party vote and delivering an upset win over long-time incumbent Clover Moore—who received almost 60 per cent of first-preference votes in 2016, a decade into her tenure—has fallen into the Sydney lawyer’s hands, and Jarrett believes a “refreshed” Liberal campaign is what is required to end the party’s recent popularity struggles.

The election’s winner is expected to dictate the agenda for Sydney’s recovery from COVID-19. Among the contenders vying for mayor, Labor candidate Linda Scott pledged to enact progressive and sustainable policies, and Wiradjuri woman Yvonne Weldon, an independent and the city’s first Indigenous mayoral candidate, has stated her intentions to address the socioeconomic and racial inequalities that the pandemic deepened.

Jarrett plans to focus chiefly on reviving the city’s arts and night-time economy, drawing on her experience as a consultant and board member of the Australian Museum Trust.

“We need to bring the city back to life, and we need ideas and policies that actually support individuals—people that are entrepreneurial, people who want to give it a go,” Jarrett said.

“Entrepreneurs should not be held back by bureaucracy,” she added, citing the inefficiencies caused by the long processing times of liquor licenses as an example.

“My policies will allow people to do what they want to do.”

With Jarrett’s experience in change management strategy consulting, she opined that the pandemic’s disruption has to be addressed by “doing things differently.”

“Moore has been mayor for 17 years. [This election] is an opportunity for change, and Liberals at both the state and federal level have brought proper fiscal management and real change. It’s the City of Sydney’s turn.”

When asked about her environmental policies, Jarrett gave no specifics but praised Matt Kean, NSW’s Environment Minister often maligned by Liberals—including the Prime Minister—for his progressive stance on climate change.

City Hub understands that Jarrett’s team will make her candidacy official in an announcement over the weekend. Given the constraints imposed by Sydney’s lockdown, Jarrett will be relying on a “digital approach” to reach constituents, with just under two months to campaign before the election on September 4.

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