Federal election special: Meet your Grayndler candidates

The federal election is on May 21, and eight candidates are vying for your vote in Grayndler. We asked them some questions to discover what they stand for, and why they reckon you should vote for them. Compiled by Sarah Maguire. Cover illustration by Fiona Katauskas

1. Rev David Smith, United Australia Party (UAP)

Rev David Smith.

Rev David Smith.

Rev David Smith is an Anglican priest and Australia's oldest registered professional boxer. He was parish priest at Dulwich Hill for 30 years, and has been teaching boxing and wrestling to at-risk people for longer. The father of four was born in Newtown and "made it as far as Petersham".

Why are you standing for election in Grayndler? I felt I had to stand up and do something. The last two years have been hell for a lot of people. Certainly, people have suffered and died from COVID, but the suffering I've been more aware of is of those who have suffered from being locked down and isolated. I watched these government policies push people who were on the edge over the edge.

Why for the UAP? In the midst of the lockdown chaos, the voice of [UAP leader] Craig Kelly was like a light shining in the darkness. The UAP seemed to me the last best hope for this country.

It's a very safe Labor seat, held by the Opposition Leader. Why did you decide to run any way? This is not the first fight I've taken where the odds are against me. Someone had to stand up and be a voice for all those who have suffered and died over the past two years from government over-reach.

What do you stand for? I stand for the people who are voiceless - the depressed and the marginalised, those who have lost their businesses and homes, those who are no longer with us because they couldn't take it anymore. We need to re-establish individual freedoms as a priority.

What would your No. 1 priority be as an elected representative? The UAP would give this country a bill of rights that ensures that every citizen enjoys freedom of speech, movement and association, and free control over their own bodies.

Why should people vote for you? If you want your children to enjoy an Australia that bears some resemblance to the country our fathers and mothers fought and died for, I don't think there's any other party that is going to change the course we are on.

What do you like most about politics? And least? I've never liked politics - not in the party-politicalsense. I like to speak frankly and from the heart. That might make me a lousy politician but it keeps me human.

2. Anthony Albanese, Labor

Anthony Albanese and Toto.

Anthony Albanese and Toto.

Opposition Leader and potential PM Anthony Albanese has lived his entire life in the inner west, and has been the Member for Grayndler since 1996, holding many senior portfolios in Government and Opposition, including Deputy Prime Minister. He lives in Marrickville with his son Nathan and cavoodle Toto.

What do you stand for? This election my Labor team and I want to create a better future for all Australians. I believe in an Australia where no one is held back and no one is left behind.

No. 1 priority? Labor has many priorities after almost a decade of neglect by this Liberal Government. Our plan for a better future will: strengthen Medicare; create secure jobs; make child care cheaper; act on climate change by supporting renewables to be 82 per cent of the grid by 2030; and make more things here in Australia.

Most pressing issue? Cost of living pressures, housing affordability and rent rises continue to be an issue felt acutely in Grayndler and across Australia. A few weeks ago, Scott Morrison said that people having difficulties with rent should buy a house. The truth is, it's much more difficult than that, and we need to address issues associated with rent increases and home ownership.

Why should people vote for you? I am asking the people of Grayndler to support me as their next Prime Minister, to continue leading on the issues that matter to the inner west and to deliver a better future for all Australians.

What do you like most about politics? And least? I went into politics because I believe good government can change lives for the better. I grew up in a council house in Camperdown, raised by a single mother. For me the policies and decisions of good governments made all the difference. On the other hand, the Morrison Government is characterised by always looking for division. We have a government that engages in negative politics because it doesn't have a positive agenda. As Prime Minister I will seek to unify the country, not divide it.

3. Ben Zhang, Liberal

Ben Zhang.

Ben Zhang.

Chinese medicine practitioner Wenjie Zhang was born in China and migrated to Australia in 1992, starting work on day one at the Balmain Chinese Medicine Clinic where he worked for 26 years with his mother. He stood as an Independent for election to the Inner West Council last year, and as a Liberal for Balmain in the 2019 state election.

Why are standing in Grayndler? I want to help all locals and am particularly focused on small business - I want to continue building a strong economy and relieving cost of living pressures on families.

Why the Liberal Party? The Liberal Party is reflective of my own beliefs and wishes for Australia. With a strong economy, that only the Morrison Government can deliver, we will be able to invest in essential services and infrastructure to benefit each and every Australian.

Why run in a safe Labor seat? Australians have the right to have a choice. I believe there are many voters in Grayndler that share my sentiments for a future with a strong economy. Over the last 30 years, Labor has delivered higher unemployment, higher interest rates, and higher electricity prices. And not a single balanced budget. A Morrison Government is in the best position to lead us as we navigate the post-pandemic era. I'm of the opinion that this community has been unrepresented by Labor and especially The Australian Greens Party.

What do you stand for? Being a longstanding health professional, I have an appreciation for our healthcare system and I want to make sure we remain focused on delivering mental health services for our community. I also want to help other small business-owners like myself to ensure we have opportunities into the future.

No. 1 priority? A holistic and proactive approach to preventative health and easing cost of living pressures for the residents Grayndler.

Most pressing issue? Cost of living pressures are impacting across the country and Grayndler is not immune. We have already seen the Morrison Government provided immediate relief for local families by cutting the fuel excise, providing a cost-of-living tax offset and a cost of living one-off payment.

Why should people vote for you? I know what hard work looks like and I will work hard for you as your local member. I am ready to serve this great community and its people to achieve the best they can in life.

What do you like most about politics? And least? I have made many great friends and have deepened my ties with the community. Politics helps me connect to other residents and introduced me to people I may not have met otherwise. Regardless of their political allegiance, I don't like the constant attacks on social media of our many politicians.

4. James Haggerty, Fusion

James Haggerty.

James Haggerty.

James Haggerty's background is in computer science and education. He is currently working as a software developer for a not-for-profit which is improving the teaching of computing in schools. He has always lived in the inner west, including eight years at his current Grayndler address, where he lives with his partner and two daughters.

Why are you standing in Grayndler? This is where I live and where I can make a difference. I want to tell as many people as possible about the Fusion Party and our policies and help elect our NSW Senate candidate Andrea Leong.

Why the Fusion Party? Fusion brings together people passionate about climate change action, evidence-based policy, and building a fairer society.

Why run in a safe Labor seat? A healthy democracy involves a contest of ideas, and running puts me into that conversation. It also reminds people to vote Fusion in the Senate!

What do you stand for? Ethical governance, planning for the long term, and being a good global citizen. Most importantly, being prepared to act on the scientific consensus even when it might lose votes.

No. 1 priority? Declare a climate emergency and implement a carbon price. Twenty-five years after Kyoto, it's well past time to act decisively.

Most pressing issue? Lack of hope: the more we believe we can do better, the better we'll do, from individuals, to our local community and organisations, and finally to our government.

Why should people vote for you? After almost 20 years working in education and computing, I've seen first-hand how commitment and idealism from a single person can affect hundreds and thousands of people. As my children grow up, I want them to live in a world that looks towards the future with hope rather than despair, so I want to bring that commitment, idealism, and hope to Australia.

What do you like most about politics? And least? Most: The chance to explore the big questions about Australia's society and economy. Least: That so much time is spent not exploring the big questions, but instead on political game-playing, pork-barrelling, and marketing.

5. Sarina Kilham, Independent

Sarina Kilham.

Sarina Kilham.

Dr Sarina Kilham is a sociologist and 22-year resident of Grayndler. She lives in St Peters with her partner and two young children and their dogs June and Eadie. Dr Kilham worked for more than a decade for the United Nations in East Timor and is currently a lecturer at Charles Sturt University, where she teaches agriculture.

Why are you standing in Grayndler? I'm appalled at our national lack of climate action. Our family went camping and my 10-year-old saw these happy grey nomads but it made her sad and she said to me "Mum, I really hope the world is still around when I'm old, so I can get a caravan like them" - and I just thought - what future am I leaving my kids?

Why as an Independent? It is very important to me to be answerable to the people. I'm not interested in playing party politics - an Independent should represent the values of the people of their electorate.

Why run in a safe Labor seat? I'm here to make some noise. Labor's policy on climate is weak and out of touch with what the people of Grayndler want and expect.

What do you stand for? Strong and ambitious climate action in line with UN-IPCC. A Federal ICAC coupled with caps on political donations. Policies for Gender Equity such the Thrive by Five reforms and the Fair Agenda pledge for ending gender-based violence.

No. 1 priority? Climate action. We don't have time to be silly or dilly-dally. We don't have another election cycle - it is literally now or never.

Most pressing issue? The last few years have been tough on the people of Grayndler and especially women in our electorate. The cost of living is the issue that most people talk to me about.

Why should people vote for you? People must think - if you want strong and ambitious climate policies; if you want a Federal ICAC and caps on political donations; if you want policies for gender equity, then you must vote for them.

What do you like most about politics? And least? Thumbs up to creating a fair society, thumbs down to the egos.

6. Paul Henselin, One Nation

Paul Henselin has described himself as a fifth-generation Queenslander, and is one of the so-called 'ghost' One Nation candidates standing in electorates they don't live in, and doing no campaigning. He stood for One Nation in the seat of Scenic Rim in the 2020 Queensland state election, and in the Queensland seat of Fairfax at the last federal election. He is listed on the Australian Electoral Commission as a business owner.

Despite repeated attempts, the Inner West Review was unable to make contact with Mr Henselin. On the One Nation website, Kate McCulloch, One Nation's lead NSW candidate for the Senate, is pictured instead of Mr Henselin as Grayndler candidate.

7. Michael Dello-Iacovo, Animal Justice Party (AJP)

Michael Dello-Iocavo

Michael Dello-Iocavo

Michael Dello-Iacovo has stood for election to all three levels of government, including a tilt at the Inner West Council last year. The Annandale resident recently finished his PhD in space science and is an avid indoor rock climber.

Why the AJP? No other party has ever resonated with me as much as AJP. No other party is dedicated to giving a voice for animals in Parliament and reducing their suffering.

Why run in a safe Labor seat? Partly to support our excellent Senate candidate Darren Brollo and give them the best chance of being elected. But I'm also running to give voters the option to send a message about what matters to them. Every vote for the AJP sends a message to whoever wins that animals, people and the planet matter.

What do you stand for? Kindness, equality, rationality and non-violence.

No. 1 priority? Live export is a horrific, cruel industry that must end.

Most pressing issue? In general, I believe climate change to be the most pressing issue, in the sense that it must be tackled now. Australia can and should do more given our globally high emissions per person.

Why should people vote for you? I will dedicate myself to finding the best possible outcome to improve the lives of animals and people while protecting the environment. I don't know everything, but I approach policy with my science outlook and do my best to get the smartest people on my team.

What do you like most about politics? And least? I like that all of us have an opportunity to try and create legal change for the issues that are most important to us, whether that's with our vote or by supporting a political party. But I struggle with politics sometimes as a scientist. I want to approach every policy issue as a challenge that we can all work together on and use evidence to converge on the best outcome. Often this is not how the war of ideas is won in public discourse.

8. Rachael Jacobs, Greens

Rachael Jacobs

Rachael Jacobs

Rachael Jacobs is a lecturer in education at Western Sydney University and a former high-school teacher. She is a community artist, working with migrant and refugee communities, and runs her own intercultural dance school. She has lived in the electorate for seven years.

Why are you standing in Grayndler? Grayndler needs a representative as vibrant as the community itself, and who reflects the values of this very progressive community.

Why the Greens? The Greens have a bold and hopeful vision for the future.

Why run in a safe Labor seat? It's not as safe as you'd think, in fact it's the greenest seat in NSW! We have two state Greens MPs and many local councillors. But most of all, voters want urgent climate action, refugees out of detention and affordable housing. Labor isn't delivering and Grayndler deserves an alternative.

What do you stand for? Urgent climate action, women's empowerment and, as a migrant, an end to racism. I'm a teacher and I won't rest until I see fully funded public schools. And the arts should be a national priority.

No. 1 priority? Truth telling and treaties towards First Nations justice, then full funding for public schools.

Most pressing issue? Going door to door, climate change is the biggest concern. Also affordable housing, with the cost of buying and renting through the roof, while the number of rough sleepers also increases.

Why should people vote for you? I reflect the colour, creativity and values of Grayndler. I've worked with refugee communities, schools and arts organisations in the electorate. I'm committed to progressive grassroots democracy, not more of the same.

What do you like most about politics? And least? I love preferential voting, meaning you can vote for the Greens, but if we don't win, your vote goes (at full value) to YOUR next preference. I hate that so few people know that, because the major parties have spent so long saying that you have to vote for them or you'll waste your vote, which is total BS.

  • Candidates appear in their ballot paper order