House debates

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Constituency Statements

Mayo By-Election

10:11 am

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

Three months ago I was gutted to announce my resignation. To put my community through the inconvenience of a by-election was heart-wrenching, and the decision to stand again took some soul-searching. However, I received so much positive feedback from my community, I felt I had to stand. Despite the fact that this by-election has been one of the longest on record—close to nearly 80 days of campaigning—it was through the encouragement of my community that we powered on.

This was a campaign driven by people power. I did not have the resources of a major party. I was driving around in my dad's old car that I borrowed from him, putting 18,000 kilometres on the clock. I was working out of a tiny storeroom of my lovely accountant, Adam Oaten, who thought I'd just be there for a month. Adam, now your name is in Hansard! I didn't have a million-dollar budget, but I did have my community behind me. Our campaign was driven by a team of 800 volunteers—800 people who letterboxed, who put flyers out. I only had a few flyers—that's all I could afford. They held garage sales, they doorknocked, they built A-frames and they stood in the rain at pre-polls. Many of them had never been interested in politics before. These wonderful people of my community had my back at community forums. They publically championed our record of achievements here. They even paid for full-page advertising in our country newspapers, telling people why they should vote for me. Some of my volunteers formed a ukulele band, Sharkie's Sharks, and hosted a singalong, raising nearly a thousand dollars. Tony Wright, from TheSydney Morning Herald, turned up to the fundraiser, and he wrote a piece on us, calling us 'folksy'. You know what—we didn't mind at all!

I have the support of my community because I put them first, before party politics, before big donors. I listen to the people of Mayo and I am here to improve policy outcomes for Mayo and for this nation. We are a small team, but we work well with government. We hold government to account, but we are also here to work with you. Millions of dollars of much-needed federal funding has been attracted to Mayo and South Australia, and millions more has been promised. Like I did in the 2016 election, I will ask the government if they will honour those promises to my community, because promises are not made for a candidate; they are made for a community.

I would like to finish by thanking my crossbench colleagues—the member for Indi, the member for Denison, and the member for Kennedy—who travelled to Mayo to support me during the campaign. Your support made the world of difference to me. Being the member for Mayo has been the most rewarding role I have had in my lifetime and I'm honoured to be given the opportunity to represent my community again.