Sharkie future

With speculation engulfing Rebekha Sharkie’s political future, the next few months may become some of the most significant in her electorate’s history.
Despite her proclaimed commitment to Centre Alliance, the uncertain future of that waning political party and her own silence over the past few days has done nothing to quell speculation that she could return to the Liberal Party fold.
Ms Sharkie was almost an accidental politician, elected on the coattails of Nick Xenophon at the height of his popularity to replace a deeply unpopular Liberal member in Jamie Briggs.
But since then she’s built her own reputation as a hard-working local member who is not tied to big party policy and who advocates solely for the best interests of her community.
After winning the 2018 by-election against high profile Liberal candidate Georgina Downer, Ms Sharkie said it was important to keep Mayo marginal and that she felt “such a debt to the community” that had given her a second chance.
A year later after a comfortable win at the general election, Ms Sharkie said the Liberals would “never give up” on Mayo and that the “longer I stand here in the way, the better off the people of Mayo are”.
That’s a statement she would do well to remember if or when any offer is made by the Liberal Party.
By her own admission, handing the seat to the Liberal Party – even in exchange for a Ministry – is unlikely to benefit anyone but herself … and the Liberal Party.
Even if, as a Minister, Ms Sharkie does pull some strings for Mayo, there’s no guarantee she will remain in Government.
Her allegiance could also be divided between her party’s policy and her community’s interests.
It could be argued that would be a backward step for the community.
In the words of Tasmanian cross-bencher Andrew Wilkie, who supported Ms Sharkie’s 2018 by-election campaign, “cross-benchers can exert real influence in their own right … we’re not in the Opposition – we’re seen in Canberra as honest brokers who are just fighting for our electorate … when we make a good case for something we’ve got a good chance of being heard”.
Over the past four years the electorate has been showered with millions of dollars in Federal funding, much of it brokered by the Member for Mayo.
But perhaps more importantly the electorate has been safe in the knowledge that its voice in Canberra is solely focused on representing its best interests.
The people of Mayo have put their faith in Rebekha Sharkie. Now more than ever, she needs to put her faith in them and stand true to her previous statements.