Low-key Coleman has uphill battle in tightest of contests

Million-dollar promises may not be enough to save embattled minister.


By Freya Cormack

In Hurstville, the main street features a Bank of China branch as well as the usual local institutions.

In the upcoming election, Liberal MP David Coleman will be defending his position as the first non-Labor member for Banks since the electorate was established in 1949. It won’t be a walk in the park as his electorate is the most marginal seat in greater Sydney held by the Liberal party.

In 2013, Coleman brought an end to Labor member Daryl Melham’s two-decade-long tenure and kicked off a new Liberal era for Banks. He secured re-election in 2016 with a reduced margin of 1.4 per cent and he faces a strong challenge from the Labor candidate Chris Gambian who opposed him in 2016. The Australian Council of Trade Unions are also focussed on Banks, saying voters there are concerned about job security.

His 2013 victory was not Coleman’s first foray into Federal politics. It took two failed Liberal preselection attempts before he secured a Federal seat. In 2007, he stood for preselection in the southern Sydney seat of Cook, only to see current Liberal leader Scott Morrison take the prize in controversial circumstances, and again, in 2010 he lost out in the blue-ribbon Liberal stronghold of Bradfield.

Born in Camden but raised in south-western Sydney on the fringes of Banks, Coleman finally found success in returning to his roots.  He studied a Bachelor of Arts/Law at the University of New South Wales, where he says he was first exposed to politics through his involvement with the UNSW Student Guild.

Straight out of university, Coleman worked as a business analyst for the management consulting firm, McKinsey and Co. He has since worked extensively in the media, notably as director of strategy and digital for the Nine Network.

In the parliament, he served as Assistant Minister for Finance from late 2017-2018 before taking on the challenging immigration portfolio from Peter Dutton. His tenure in the portfolio has been more low-key than that of his predecessor whose ministerial discretion was questioned on more than one occasion.

With a tiny margin to defend in a tight election, the MP has promised a $1 million injection for the restoration of the polluted Georges River catchment area if the Coalition is reelected and new financial support for various sporting associations.

Coleman did not respond to a request for an interview by the time of publication.