The local council elections in NSW in September promise to be a riotous affair but nowhere more colorful than in Warringah on Sydney’s northern beaches.
The council has a wonderful history — it was sacked by the government in 1967, 1985 and again in 2003, giving it the state record for the most number of dismissals of any elected council.
Once again, the NSW Liberal Party is promising to provide the voters of Warringah with all the entertainment.
Step foward Jason Falinski who has nominated to become Warringah’s first popularly elected mayor under the banner of “Warringah 08”. If he misses out on the mayoralty, he’s also standing to become a humble councillor.
“Warringah 08” is a Liberal trojan horse and Falinski is seeking the mayor’s position so he can launch the next stage of his ambitious political career in federal or state parliament.
The likely targets of Phase II are Brad Hazzard’s state seat of Wakehurst or Bronwyn Bishop’s federal seat of Mackellar.
Falinski has a chequered history in the Liberal Party. He is one of the chief spear carriers for The Group, the “wets” whose titular federal leader is Joe Hockey and whose state chief is former NSW minister Michael Photios.
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A former president of the Young Liberals, Falinski’s power base is the lush harbourside real estate of the city’s eastern suburbs. A former president of the blue ribbon Point Piper branch, Falinski was campaign manager for merchant banker Malcolm Turnbull when he blitzed the seat of Wentworth at the 2004 election.
Falinski is a strong supporter of the former state Liberal leader John Brogden who spectacurlarly imploded in 2005. Six days before Brogden quit the party’s leadership and made an attempt on his life, Falinski transferred his party membership from Vaucluse to Pittwater.
His move made waves in the factionally sensitive Libs. Brogden had attempted to win pre-selection for Vaucluse in 1994 only to be defeated by Peter Debnam who, ironically, took over as party leader when Brogden crashed.
Since travelling under the colours of “Warringah 08” Falinski appears to have dropped the words “Liberal Party” from his literature. However, local Libs were surprised to receive a mail-out from Falinski which indicated he had obtained a full list of local party members and their addresses.
The letter asks local Libs for their support in the election and also for their money to help the campaign.
His candidacy has aroused the concern of the only community independent group standing in the September 13 elections — “We Love Warringah”. One of its prominent backers is long-time resident, comedienne and much-admired community mum Wendy Harmer.
“When will Mr Falinski declare his true colours?” asked one of the “We Love Warringah” team, “and when will he declare his true political intentions? Is he going to serve Warringah ratepayers for four years as mayor, or is it merely a stepping stone on his ambitious career path?”
The most popular local view is that Falinski should return to the eastern suburbs and leave the northern beaches to its own. Falinski is likely to discover in September that the Warringah village people don’t like blow-ins from Bondi.