Fighting for Wentworth’s less well-heeled

Labor’s Tim Murray has little chance of winning Australia’s premier blue-ribbon seat. However, that has done nothing to dim his passion for the big issues.

With the Labor Party “running dead” to help Independent candidate and now MP for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps in the October by-election, Labor Party candidate Tim Murray’s best bet in May’s election is to promote his party’s brand in an electorate that has never voted Labor and probably never will. And as an atypically progressive centre-right electorate, Wentworth is fertile ground for the 50-year-old family man and former globe-trotter.

“The people of Wentworth want a sensible climate policy, a great education system, the opportunity for young people to buy a home and indigenous recognition,” he says on his official campaign website.

“At this election there is a stark contrast between what Labor and Liberal can offer you.”

Murray was born in Waverly, but raised in the Southern Highlands by his mother after his parents divorced when he was three.

“Our house was always full of people and laughter, we had chickens, grew vegetables and built cubby houses in the bush,” he recalls. “My mother worked hard to give me opportunities and a good work ethic.”

Tim used a gap year after high school to travel in Nepal and India, before volunteering for a social work program in Western Sydney.

He then studied economics and Chinese at Macquarie University.

“A scholarship to study at John Hopkins University took me to China in 1994,” he says. “In the 20 years I lived in China I worked in the Australian Embassy, was a sales exec for Foster’s, then started with some friends the financial services company that I still run today.  My economic consultancy business covers the Chinese macro economy and demand for Australian commodities. I speak fluent Chinese Mandarin.”

He also met his wife Pauline in Shanghai and, with their three children in tow, returned to Sydney five years ago. The family lives in Tamarama, one of Wentworth’s numerous beachside suburbs.

Inspired to run for Australia’s wealthiest electorate after then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was rolled by the Liberal Party, Murray is again putting climate change at the centre of his election campaign. With its commitment to the Paris Agreement, and ambitious renewable energy and electric vehicle targets and incentives, the Labor party appears to be taking the higher road on building a more sustainable Australian economy.

As a progressive candidate, other issues close to Murray’s heart are housing affordability for Wentworth’s young constituents. The average rent for a house in Bondi, one of the electorate’s most popular suburbs, is a whopping $1,200 a week, according to property data specialists Domain; in neighbouring Tamarama it can cost more than $1.2 million for a two-bedroom unit. These exorbitant prices are particularly unattainable for young renters and buyers in the Wentworth electorate.

Murray is also passionate about the acknowledgement of Indigenous culture in the Wentworth area. The construction of cultural centres is on Murray’s to-do list, and he believes such buildings will help the electorate’s residents to embrace the important history behind the local indigenous culture.

“Indigenous recognition begins here where we live,” Murray says on his campaign website.

Although successful and worldly, it’s Murray’s working class roots which drive his interest in representing Wentworth’s less fortunate constituents.

“I grew up in a single parent family and we were poor,” he says on his website.

“Single Parent benefits, introduced by Whitlam helped my family.

“Medicare gave my family access to medical treatment. I was able to graduate from university because I received Austudy.”

This is only Murray’s second time as a candidate, taking over from previous Labor candidate Evan Hughes.

However, his goals have not changed since 2018 when he finished third, with 11.5 per cent of the popular vote, behind Kerryn Phelps and LNP candidate David Sharma.