THE man endorsed as the Liberal Party’s candidate in the December by-election for the North Sydney electorate could become Australia’s first openly-gay man in the House of Representatives, should he win.
The Liberal Party yesterday announced Trent Zimmerman as their candidate for the federal electorate left vacant by former treasurer Joe Hockey.
[showads ad=MREC]A former North Sydney councillor and former vice-president of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, the 47-year-old worked as Hockey’s political adviser before yesterday’s announcement.
Speaking to the Star Observer, Zimmerman outlined his top priorities for the LGBTI community that he would advocate for if he were to win the by-election on December 5.
“I would be heavily advocating for a ‘yes’ vote on marriage equality,” he said.
“If I were in parliament before I would’ve argued for a free vote, but the party policy is now for a plebiscite.
“I am very confident there would be a ‘yes’ vote in my community and across the country.”
Regarded as a safe Liberal seat, North Sydney’s previous MP was also an opponent of marriage equality — something Zimmerman acknowledged.
“Joe [Hockey] and I had a few disagreements in the issue,” he said.
“I tried to persuade him, but I was impressed that he wanted a free vote in parliament.
“Nonetheless, Joe was very supportive of me when we worked together.”
He also believes the Liberal voters in his electorate would be happy to see marriage equality become a reality.
“North Sydney is a very progressive community, the residents understand that marriage equality is a very important part of everyone’s equality.”
The Star Observer also asked if he would consider advocating for other issues other an marriage equality, such as lobbying the Therapeutic Goods Administration — Australia’s peak regulatory agency for medical drugs and devices — to have PrEP approved or reducing the 12-month deferral period for blood donations from gay men.
Zimmerman responded by saying he wanted to consult with key stakeholders and experts in the field first.
“I’m very happy to talk with anyone with more expertise,” he said.
When he served on North Sydney Council between 2004 and 2012, he led campaigns for better financial sustainability and the revitalisation of North Sydney CBD.
A local resident of Waverton, he has also been involved in the local Rotary Club and as a representative on the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust’s Community Consultative Committee.
“Community service is a passion for me, I have dedicated a large part of my life to serving our community and I want to continue this by serving as the member for North Sydney,” Zimmerman said.