POLITICS

TV Presenter James Mathison Is Running Against Tony Abbott In The Election

The former Australian Idol host is running as an Independent for the Warringah seat.

28/05/2016 8:17 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Yes, you read that correctly. If the campaign battle on Sydney's North Shore wasn't heated enough for locals, it's just been turned up another notch by TV presenter James Mathison.

The former Australian Idol host has decided to run as an Independent in Tony Abbott's electorate of Warringah, which takes suburbs including Manly, Mosman and Neutral Bay.

As the former Prime Minister defends his seat for the first time since he was ousted from the top job, Mathison has decided to throw his hat in the political ring announcing his move on Saturday morning with his own three-word slogan: #TimesUpTony.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mathison said he only recently decided to run after watching Abbott launch his election campaign on Sky News two weeks ago.

"I just thought 'who is holding him to account?", Mathison told The Tele, suggesting Abbott is delivering the same election promises for the electorate as he did in 2001.

"I don't think his stance and the stance of the far right of the Liberal Party reflect the community and that's what we're going to try to tap into. The Greens are too extreme. People here don't overly trust Labor but they can't stand Tony, so what do they do? They just sleepwalk into the polling booth and do what they've always done," Mathison said.

The father-of-two -- who advocates for marriage equality, refugees and climate change -- will be focusing on the youth vote in the electorate and believes he can make more change as an Independent.

"Letting people know you're running is easy. The hard part is convincing them this isn't a joke, it's not a prank, or a stunt, that I really care about the community and I really care about changing the way we do this," Mathison said.

"Maybe it's crazy to think you can win a safe seat like this, but I think it's even crazier to reward someone who has just not delivered for the community and has deceived the nation over and over and over again. I think that's even crazier."

And the bitter campaign brewing over in the electorate with challengers trying to push Abbott out has only been heightened by the new Independent. Labor candidate Andrew Woodward has been running an anti-Abbott campaign with #TonyTimeToGo sprawled through his tweets and an established crowdfunding page for his campaign called StopTonyAbbott.com.

Mr Woodward welcomed Mathison's entry into the race on Saturday.

"It's great to have another anti-Abbott voice in Warringah. There's a groundswell of opposition to Tony Abbott and momentum is building in Warringah for change," Mr Woodward said in a statement.

Fairfax: Janie Barrett
James Mathison was arrested in May after climbing a tree at protests to save Anzac Parade Moreton Bay fig trees in Sydney.

Psychotherapist Marie Rowland is running as the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) candidate in the electorate with Xenophon launching the campaign to "Swap The Votes" -- another play on Abbott's three word slogan.

"I felt the former PM and sitting member does not represent any of my values, and is operating on a platform that would have been fine for the 1950s but in modern day Australia, does not apply," Rowland told The Huffington Post Australia earlier in the week.

On Wednesday HuffPost Australia took the ferry to Manly to see how the electorate felt about Abbott and his opponents. While many remained loyal to the "genuine" man, others felt neglected. Some even refused to enrol as they felt no one represented them in the electorate (maybe Mathison should have run before voting enrolments closed).

The former Prime Minister has been Member for Warringah since 1994, winning 61 percent of the primary vote at the 2013 poll so only time will tell whether his loyal following remains or dissipates.

But one thing is certain: it's going to be one hell of a race in Warringah.

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