Simon O’Brien has taken on possibly the toughest challenge in the upcoming federal election.
Mr O’Brien, 51, the bar manager at Woolooware Golf Club for the last 18 years and a well-known local musician, has been named as the Labor candidate for Cook.
He will go head-to-head with Sutherland Shire’s first prime minister Scott Morrison.
Mr Morrison’s elevation to the top job was widely welcomed, not the least by Labor councillors, as an honour for the shire.
Mr O’Brien said he was undaunted by the task.
“I know its a mountain to climb, but I will certainly be campaigning to win and I hope I can swing a few people across,” he said.
“I want to make a dent in the vote and make some headway for the next person who may want to take it on.”
Mr O’Brien said he was a long-term Labor voter, but joined the party only recently.
He was encouraged to run by local Labor members and contacted head office.
”I felt it was time for me to put my hand up,” he said.
“I don’t want to sit back and whinge from the sidelines anymore.
“I am honoured to have been endorsed by the Australian Labor Party, and I plan to get out there and speak to as many constituents as I can to put forward the case for a better and fairer Australia.”
Mr O’Brien said Labor voters in Cook needed someone to represent their values.
“I also think that, despite Cook being a Liberal seat for decades, there are many dissatisfied voters looking to change their vote,” he said.
Mr O’Brien has been involved in the shire’s music scene for several decades, playing in a variety of cover bands, including the Zeros and the Vandelles.
A single father of three, he has also been a small business owner and TAFE teacher.
Mr O’Brien said his policy priorities included education and penalty rates.
He believes cuts to penalty rates were “a hotbed issue” in Cook.
“Most of the people I speak to, even traditional Liberal supporters, think it was in poor taste that politicians gave themselves a pay-rise on the same day that hundreds of thousands of our lower-paid workers received further cuts to their penalty rates,” he said.
“I’m fortunate enough to work for a club that maintained the previous award rate, but I worry for every other shift worker out there who relies on those penalty rates to get by”.