Dave Sharma, who served as the first Indian-origin lawmaker in the Australian Parliament in 2019, has marked his political comeback by winning the Senate race in New South Wales (NSW). The 47-year-old politician and ex-diplomat will replace former foreign minister Marise Payne, who retired from the Senate.
Sharma represented the Sydney seat of Wentworth until he was defeated in the 2022 election. He defeated former NSW minister Andrew Constance, a Senate frontrunner backed by opposition leader Peter Dutton. Sharma won by a 251-206 vote in the final ballot on Sunday, according to Australian media.
"I would like to thank the party members for the opportunity to hold the Albanese government to account in the Senate over its many missteps and wrong decisions, and to fight for the many households across New South Wales (NSW) struggling to deal with Labor's cost-of-living crisis," he said, noting that taking over from former Senator Payne was a privilege.
"The opportunity to serve in the Senate will allow me to fight for our nation's national security interests in a time of greater global turmoil," said Sharma, who also served as Australia's ambassador to Israel from 2013 to 2017.
What others said about Sharma's win
Dutton also said that Sharma's entry to the Australian Senate comes at a crucial time, given the "precarious circumstances" in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Indo-Pacific regions. Additionally, deputy opposition leader Sussan Ley also said that Sharma will bring a unique perspective to the Senate.
"His diplomatic and foreign policy expertise will lend considerable weight and wisdom to the public policy debate given the precarious circumstances in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific," Dutton said in a statement.
In a historic election in 2019, Sharma became the first Indian-origin lawmaker in Australia's Parliament after winning a seat in a Sydney suburb in the federal election.
The Senate race
After the resignation of Payne, ten candidates applied for the Senate spot, including Constance and former junior minister Zed Seselja. The battle was seen internally as shaping the future direction of the party, as moderate members of the Liberal Party sought to push back against the party's shift towards the right, reported The Guardian.
Sharma’s return to the Liberal party is being seen as a win for the moderates who had seen their numbers drastically fall after the 2022 election, when they lost key seats to independent candidates. Now his selection needs to be officially endorsed by the NSW parliament.
(with inputs from PTI)