Dave Sharma with James Packer

Scott Morrison fails to get in a female 

It is a moment of great pride for the Australian Indian community. It’s first real prospect of being in Australian parliament, for Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma has been pre-selected to contest the very safe Liberal seat of Wentworth, held by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The electorate of Wentworth – has been a safe liberal seat since 1931 and has never been won by the Australian Labor Party. With the recent Liberal party meltdown in Canberra which saw the ouster of Malcolm Turnbull, pollsters believe – the liberal primary vote could drop significantly.

The ABC news site wrote:
Mr Sharma now faces the challenge of keeping Wentworth in Liberal hands at the by-election, with early polling indicating the seat is not as safe as the 17.7 per cent buffer from the last federal election suggests.

The loss of Mr Turnbull as the popular local member, and the events that led to his ousting as prime minister, have added another factor to the contest.

ABC election analyst Antony Green estimates Mr Turnbull’s departure could automatically slash as much as 5 per cent off the margin.

Dave Sharma faced tough challenge before clinching the ticket to Canberra. With the recent calls for quota for women in the Liberal party, Prime Minister Scott Morrison pushed for a female candidate. He did not back Dave Sharma and called for all Liberals to throw their support behind his preferred candidate Katherine O’Regan, a staffer and former Woollahra deputy mayor.

PM Morrison backed Katherine O'Regan knocked out very early
PM Morrison backed Katherine O’Regan knocked out very early

It is believed Dave Sharma considered withdrawing from the race but former Prime Ministers – Malcolm Turnbull and John Howard both threw their support behind him and told him not to withdraw.

With some real tug of war going on – relying on his high profile backers both Turnbull and Howard, Sharma went into the race last night keeping his faith. And faith he did keep when after a marathon of a pre-selection battle which had six rounds – he finally emerged a winner with 119 votes defeating his nearest rival Richard Shields(82) by 37 votes. (Liberal Party insiders said there were “201 voters”.)

BT believes Morrison’s candidate  former Woollahra deputy mayor Katherine O’Regan, who had been the expected frontrunner was knocked out very early.

Speaking after the vote outside the Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union Club entrance where the ballot was held, Mr Sharma said he would be “throwing his all” into the by-election battle on October 22.

“It’s been a long evening, but I’m honoured to have been selected as the Liberal candidate,” Mr Sharma said.

While there is no dearth of naysayers who opine Dave Sharma’s pre-selection will put further pressure on the Liberal party – an already a damaged commodity, the locals in Wentworth and the whole Australian Indian community will be doing all they can to help their democratically selected candidate win the seat for them.                                                      – Vir Rajendra

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