Liberal candidate Julian Leeser is widely expected to win the seat of Berowra, taking over from Australia’s third longest serving MP Philip Ruddock
Politics and the Liberal party
I got involved in politics and the Liberal Party because I saw it as a great way to make a contribution to the community through helping people and policy reform. I have been a member of the party for 23 years. I joined when Keating was Prime Minister in an effort to stop him giving us ‘the recession we had to have’.
Every time Labor is in government we have a bad economy and social upheaval. The Liberal Party is good at managing the economy and ensuring our best days are ahead. I am committed to the ethos of the Liberals – individual enterprise, reward for effort, following the rule of law.
While this is not considered a marginal electorate, I am not taking anything for granted. I am going out there to meet as many voters as possible. First and foremost I am the Liberal candidate for Berowra. My responsibility is to represent the people of this electorate, whether they vote for me or not.
The thing I enjoy most about politics is…
I really love the buzz from helping people solve their problem. It is a great feeling to be able to help someone through a complicated bureaucratic process and see them so relieved and grateful
Three major issues facing Berowra
1. The NorthConnex and the need to fix Pennant Hills Road. The NRMA says it is the worst road in the country and locals would agree. We need to complete that project on time and on budget. It will connect the M1 to the M2, remove 15 sets of traffic lights and take 15 minutes off people’s journey into the city.
2. Mobile blackspots. I was with Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield recently when he made our announcement about two new base stations at Brooklyn and Crosslands to improve mobile coverage. Already we have a base station under construction at Sackville North and we need to continue these efforts to keep the community connected.
3. Support for small business. There are around 15,000 small businesses in the Berowra electorate which is one of the largest percentages in the country. Ours is the only party to provide them with tax cuts and incentives to improve the economy and jobs market.
The father of the house
Philip Ruddock has been a lion of the Liberal party, a lion of the local community and a lion of politics. I have huge shoes to fill. He is very well known and respected. Philip Ruddock’s father was actually a member of the local council for a great number of years and then became a State Member of Parliament before Philip ran in the seat of Berowra. There has been a Ruddock family member on the ballot around this area for a long time and their family has a fine tradition of public service. My big challenge is to get myself known in the community and carry on that tradition of service.
You couldn’t want for a better mentor. Philip actually lives two doors down from me, so I’ll probably be going to seek his advice on a regular basis. He has seen so much in Australian politics and he’s someone whose counsel is worth listening to.
Why has he been so successful? I think because he has brought a great deal of integrity to the role. He has made a serious and trusted contribution to the public debate.
If elected I will be the first Jewish person in NSW to be elected to the House of Representatives.
Jews have actually been in Australia since the First Fleet. They were prominent in politics in colonial times, but no Jewish person from a centre right party from NSW has ever been elected to the parliament. Our parliament needs to be more diverse. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for new talent to get involved in the party and make a difference.
Getting more people involved in politics
We in the Liberal Party need to do more to reach out to Australians from a broad range of communities. Our doorknocking and community barbecues have been very successful. People are encouraged to come out and meet their local member and talk about their issues and getting more involved.
Our country is what we make of it. If you share the values of the Liberal Party, you should get involved. I’m not saying you’ll have a parliamentary career overnight, but it’s about sharing the messages that you’re passionate about.
I work with the Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, Korean and Sri Lankan communities which are the major multicultural communities in our area. I believe a diverse Australia is a strong Australia. I am a member of the Cherrybrook Chinese Association, one of the oldest and most active multicultural associations in our area.
When the Australian Indian Cultural Council held their Cherrybrook Diwali I was asked to help out and MC’d the event. I am Jewish and I was the Chair of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Community Relations Committee, reaching out to various cultural communities to develop stronger ties.
People in the various multicultural communities of Berowra want the same things as everyone else – better infrastructure, lower taxes, better mobile services. Those are top priority issues. Quality education and transport options are also of concern, as is the preservation of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
The Indian community
Last year I attended the Parramatta Diwali function with my wife Joanna and we really enjoyed ourselves. Together we have also taken some lessons at the IABBV Hindi School under Mala Mehta, so I know a few words of Hindi!
We actually travelled to India for our honeymoon and visit Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra. At some point during this election campaign, I am hoping to visit the Sikh Temple, which is just outside the electorate.
Indian Australians are playing an increasingly important role in this country and I delighted so many families are choosing to make their new life here in Australia.