Jason Falinski won preselection for the Liberal Party in the federal seat of Mackellar on April 16, defeating the long term candidate Bronwyn Bishop. Mr Falinski has always lived on the northern beaches and now shares a home in Collaroy with his wife Nichola and their 7-year-old daughter.
Speaking to UniPollWatch, Mr Falinski explains what he believes are the main concerns for locals. “The issues Mackellar residents are concerned about are the NBN, congestion, and changes to superannuation.”
Mr Falinski says, if elected, he wants to be a community leader in Mackellar. He believes the electorate has been neglected: “There is a feeling within the community that they work hard and pay a lot of tax but they have sub-standard infrastructure.”
Underneath the feeling of neglect are what Mr Falinski calls “a whole lot of symbolic issues.”
Mackellar is currently not on the map for the NBN rollout. There has been no new road infrastructure since the construction of the Roseville Bridge in 1966. It is expected that 30,000 new dwellings will be built over the next 16 years, but there is no planned infrastructure to support that.
Although the construction of the new hospital at Frenchs Forest is underway, this was promised in 1958-59, and, says Mr Falinski, “was a long time coming.”
A self-confessed economics nerd, Mr Falinski is currently managing director at CareWell Health, the healthcare furniture and equipment supply business that he started more than 10 years ago.
Holding a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics and a Masters of Business Administration, he has worked in the public and private sectors. His interest in politics began in his teenage years and, during his first year at university, he joined the Sydney University Liberal Club.
At the age of 21, when he was a member of the Davidson Young Liberals, he became involved in campaigning during a by-election. He found the experience fascinating, especially , he says, compared with studying Marshallian demand and regression analysis.
During his time at university, Mr Falinski became interested in the economists of the past such as Adam Smith, David Riccardo and John Stuart Mills. “They were economists second and political philosophers first.”
Mr Falinski believes the way to make real change is by being involved in the debate. Before the Mackellar preselection, a lot of media commentary focused on Bronwyn Bishop, who had held the seat since 1994, and her involvement in a parliamentary entitlements scandal. After charging the taxpayer to charter a helicopter to a Liberal Party function she had to repay the flight cost, which amounted to $5227. This incident also cost her the speakership in the House of Representatives.
Before his preselection Mr Falinski had the support of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NSW Premier Mike Baird also wrote a letter of recommendation.
Polling conducted by MediaReach on behalf of the Liberal party in late March showed, if Bronwyn Bishop were the Liberal candidate, the Liberals would likely lose the seat. The polling also indicated that if the Liberals were to run a different candidate, 52 per cent of respondents would be more likely to vote Liberal.
Mr Falinski says he has not detected any backlash towards Mrs Bishop or the Liberal Party in his dealings with the public. “I don’t suspect anyone wants to get into a discussion with me about the ins and outs of the internal Liberal Party process. They want to talk about the stuff that is of interest to them.”