In the wake of an ICAC inquiry into a number of Ryde Councillors, which seems set to leave the political careers of some Liberal and Labor councillors alike in tatters - whether or not there was corruption - the ALP has been forced to select a new candidate.
It is perhaps just as well, since even before the ICAC investigations, my own research on the prior ALP candidate for Bennelong turned up nothing that suggested he was suited to this job.
The ALP choice for a replacement shows they are very serious about winning Bennelong back. Jason Yat-Sen Li (or in the European tradition, Jason Li, and in the Asian tradition, Li Yat-Sen), has impeccable credentials for the job of a member of Parliament.
Jason Li's relevant experience starts with his qualifications in law (with a Bachelor of Laws from Sydney University, and a Master of Laws from NYU). Since Parliament is where laws get made, Skill in the law is the most important skill to bring to the table.
The relevant skills continue with early experience with political advocacy, and policy experience at a national and international level. This is the next most important skill for doing the work of a member of Parliament.
All of these are core skills relevant to job of Member of Parliament. The only core skill that we do not know about is public speaking and debating ability, but that is very difficult to assess before any public debates.
Coupled with that, he also has a successful business career. While this is not one of the core skills needed to do the work of a Member of Parliament, it is a very helpful to the role, especially as a complement to a strong set of core skills.
If Jason Li were not running for the Labor Party, the Liberal Party would likely be falling over themselves to get him on their team.
I do not recall another candidate in Bennelong who was in this league, in terms of Relevant Job Skills (except one candidate in 2004, obviously).
Then there are the electability traits. His Chinese background, and his fluent Mandarin and Cantonese, should prove very valuable given the large Chinese community in Bennelong.
Labor would not be wasting a candidate like this on a seat they did not think they could win. In 2007, they chose Maxine McKew as a star candidate, but with Jason Li they have raised the competition up a fistful notches above that.
The other candidates announced so far are:
- John Alexander - a candidate whose only apparent asset is electability on the back of sporting fame;
- Rob Marks - a candidate who seems to have no discernible reputation at all, and does not seem to be publishing any kind of CV anywhere;
- Lachlan McCaffrey - a candidate who touts his participation in his local football team, which is entirely irrelevant to the job;
- Lindsay Peters - while Lindsay has strong policy analysis, and has developed good public speaking skills over a few elections now, his relevant skill set runs a distant second to those of Jason Li; and
- Julie Worsley - with no discernible relevant job skills, it is now unclear if she is even still a candidate. While the CDP previously said she was preselected in 2011 to run for Bennelong in 2013, her profile page has vanished from the CDP web site.
At this stage, Jason Li looks set to clearly win the job-skills part of the analysis. There always remains the possibliity that a minor party or independent with equivalent skills could enter the contest, but that is a long shot.
Even though I generally prefer minor parties and independents (at least so long as the Liberal Party keeps pandering to its most extreme right wing elements), unless some new candidate with strong job skills emerges, it would take very compelling policy advantages for another candidate for Bennelong to look like a better choice on election day.