'I will not hesitate to speak out', Mallard promises
SYDNEY: NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has backed Liberal candidate Shayne Mallard to provide an experienced and respected “voice at the heart of Government” if he is elected as the next MP for the state seat of Sydney at next weekend’s by-election.
Mallard’s campaign for the seat was officially launched at a packed dinner function at a Chinese restaurant in Haymarket on Tuesday night, with the candidate able to call on the drawing power of the likes of O’Farrell, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, Disabilities Minister Andrew Constance, Coogee MP Bruce-Notley Smith and President of the New South Wales Legislative Council, Don Harwin.
Also in attendance was federal Liberal Senator Marise Payne and newly elected City of Sydney councillor Christine Forster.
Harwin and O’Farrell both spoke about Mallard’s commitment and service to the local LGBTI community as well as his experience on the boards of ACON and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and tenure as a City of Sydney councillor.
“Shayne’s the bloke with the experience and who shares the values of the community he seeks to represent,” O’Farrell said.
“In addition to delivering as a candidate and over 12 years as a Councillor, Shayne fights for the values of his local community, including the importance of tolerance and non-discrimination.”
The co-owner of a catering company with his Danish partner, Mallard, 48, is considered by many to be the favourite for the seat alongside independent Alex Greenwich.
In perhaps a swipe at former long-serving Sydney independent MP Clover Moore and Greenwich, who she has anointed as her successor, O’Farrell suggested independents potentially added very little to the political process.
“Independent members did worse for people in their electorates than Coalition members when in Opposition,” he said.
The Labor Party which decided against fielding a candidate in the by-election also came in for a grilling during the function.
“The Labor Party didn’t even have the guts to run against Shayne Mallard,” Berejiklian said to loud applause.
Mallard said if elected he would be someone who will speak up for constituents and local issues and listed reforms to legislation to deal with illegal boarding houses and better public transport as key platforms of his campaign.
“This by-election is not some Hollywood production. Some think it is. It’s not about revenge and it’s not about any one single issue,” he said.
“It’s a bread and butter campaign. It’s hard work, it’s methodical and we have been working to earn the trust and support of the Sydney community for the last three months, and I myself personally for the last 12 years.”
Mallard said attempts by opponents to paint him as a “shy retiring backbencher” were not only way off mark but would be proved wrong quite quickly if elected.
“Over 12 years as a Councillor, there’s hardly an issue that I have not been involved in this community.
“You name it from services like public transport and policing through to social issues like harm minimisation, mental health and equality for the gay community – I have been there for them all,” he said.
“Before the Premier here tonight, I make a pledge that if I am elected member for Sydney I will not hesitate to speak out if I believe it is in the interest of my constituents to do so.”
Photo: Liberal candidate Shayne Mallard, right, with NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell (Jason Nichol)