Labor has set their sights on winning Wakehurst at the NSW Election.

Hoping to gain a first-mover advantage and break a three-decade Liberal stranglehold on the electorate, the Labor Party has announced Sue Wright (formerly Barsi) as their candidate for Wakehurst.

With the retirement of incumbent MP Brad Hazzard, the field has been left wide open for Labor to mount a campaign as neither the Liberal Party nor Teals have yet fielded a candidate. The only other declared candidate for Wakehurst currently is 19-year-old Ethan Hrnjak for The Greens.

Labor has traditionally considered Northern Beaches seats unwinnable and used them as campaign training experience for younger members of the Labor Party still at University. After selecting Paula Goodman to run for Mackellar in the Federal Election, the endorsement of the well-known and widely-respected Sue Wright continues a significant departure from that trend for Labor and indicates they are getting serious about winning formerly unwinnable seats.

Sue Wright, Labor candidate for Wakehurst

A resident of Narraweena, Ms Wright is a lifelong local who grew up in Narrabeen and Collaroy Plateau. She is an active member of community organisations, including Save the Mona Vale Hospital Committee, Save the Manly Ferries Alliance and Don’t Privatise Our Buses, as well as Mothers Against Nuclear Testing, Labor Environment Action Network and Greenpeace.

Ms Wright said that after three decades in Wakehurst, the Liberal Party had taken voters for granted.

“The Liberals have taken the people of Wakehurst for granted. Local residents deserve a voice and their vote should count. I understand the enormity of the challenge ahead of me in this electorate, but my number one priority in this campaign is to listen to local residents, and provide them with a voice and a choice this election,” said Ms Wright.

Sue Wright at Lizard Rock, Belrose

Ms Wright says her policy concerns would be familiar to local voters.

“There’s some big issues in Wakehurst. We’ve got the flooding of the Wakehurst Parkway, and what we can do about that. We’ve got the proposed development at Lizard Rock, and the big development at Frenchs Forest, which includes the moving of the High School.

“Then there’s the public transport system. I really want to sort something out with that, including availability options. At the moment, it’s only buses until you get to Manly Wharf and that’s just a whole other nightmare. Long-term, an underground railway system would be fantastic,” said Ms Wright.

Following the announcement just before Christmas by the Sydney North Planning Panel to consider up to 450 homes at Belrose in the area known as Lizard Rock (image above), Ms Wright says the matter has become an election issue.

“All other developments are merit based. All the studies are done and you go from there. I think that the way this one has been handled with the Planning Minister, it could set a precedent that makes it really hard to go back from.

“Usually, local councils have more of a say about what happens in their area. I really don’t think who owns the land matters. That shouldn’t even really come into it,” said Ms Wright.

Sue Wright, Labor candidate for Wakehurst

Sue Wright is seeking to build momentum for her campaign before her opponents, and so far, they are giving her every assistance, with neither the Liberals or the Teals declaring a candidate for an election just three months away.

Following a bruising selection process in Pittwater, the Liberal Party are yet to hold a selection meeting in Wakehurst to choose a candidate. Having made a promising start, the Teal Independent campaign appears to have lost direction. No candidate has yet been named, and as of today (Friday, 30 December) their website is still accepting applications for nomination.

There have been rumours of a split in supporters over the selection of a candidate, amid ‘will-he-or-won’t-he’ speculation that Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan may mount a challenge for the seat. Mayor Regan has previously denied speculation he is intending to run.

That leaves the Labor campaign for Sue Wright in a very good position to mount a serious challenge for Wakehurst.

The NSW Election will be held on Saturday, 25 March 2023.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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