Susan Moylan-Coombs has become the first person to officially put their hand up to run as an independent against Tony Abbott in the seat of Warringah in Sydney’s north.
And she not only wants to replace Abbott as the electorate’s MP in Parliament, but also replace Abbott as Special Envoy on Indigenous Affairs, a position he has held since the Liberal leadership spill in August 2018.
Moylan-Coombs, director of local Warringah company The Gairmaragal Group, is a member of the stolen generations who was adopted at the age of three by former NSW Bar Association president John Coombs, and raised on the Northern beaches. She attended school in Harbord (now Freshwater) and Manly, and became Australia’s first Indigenous lifesaver, and one of the country’s first female lifesavers,
In recent years, she’s held senior positions with the ABC and SBS, including as executive producer for the live broadcast of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008 and, 16 years earlier, as an ABC TV staffer in 1992 directing the Paul Keating Park Speech that launched the UN Decade for Indigenous Peoples. She was the First Peoples consultant on the feature film Storm Boy, set to be released in 2019.
Moylan-Coombs made the announcement just before Christmas, releasing her campaign website last week noting that “our home is Warringah, part of the Gai-marigal homelands and a place where individuals, families and communities are connected and empowered.”
She declared the electorate needs “independent thinking”, and that locally she will act in the best interests of residents and the unique coastal environment. Nationally, she will focus on the need for urgent climate action as well as economic sustainability. She’s also prioritised the need for better funding for health, education and public broadcasting.
“I’m ready to help repair the negative state of affairs resulting from Australia’s personality politics, where our representatives are serving themselves before the people,” she said in a press release announcing her candidacy.
“In 2019 Warringah can take a stand for what keeps us healthy and makes us hopeful.”
Moylan-Coombs says she would also be an ideal candidate for Special Envoy on Indigenous Affairs, given her personal heritage and her professional career supporting Indigenous issues.
Moylan-Coombs, who says she closely watched Kerryn Phelps’ successful campaign for Wentworth, is likely to be joined by other high-profile independent candidates running for Warringah. While Jane Caro declared she was considering running for the seat following Phelps’ victory, she has not confirmed whether she will run and told a Voices of Warringah event in early December that “there is probably more use I could be by not running.”
Moylan-Coombs will officially launch her campaign on the 21st January.