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Alexandra Tselios

About Alexandra Tselios

Founder and CEO of The Big Smoke, Alexandra oversees the leading digital content platform in both Australia and the USA. As a social and technology commentator, she is interviewed most days of the week on radio and appears on ABC's The Drum and ABC News24. Alexandra is also a Director of NFP think tank, Plus61J, which explores the political and social ties between Australia and Israel; and sits on the board of Estate-Planning FinTech start-up NowSorted.

With Warren Mundine set to contest the seat of Gilmore, he sat down with TBS publisher Alexandra Tselios about his past, his hopes for the future and the criticism he has received.

 

 

 

I believe the very issue Australians face in this election is less around Labor/Liberal ideologies but rather that of advocacy. Individual Australians may debate policies, but at large the one consistent thread is simply ‘who will advocate for our community’. In a sea of MPs seeking for the trust of the public, it takes more than perfected sloganism and bright ads to make a difference – it takes depth and an understanding of the complexities that communities face, and need to overcome, in order to thrive. How can they be better supported and represented at a Federal level?

I recently spent some time with Warren Mundine and his wife, Elizabeth. I wanted to know a bit more around the ‘why’ those in Nowra, Kiama and the extended areas of Shoalhaven should believe that Mundine, with the support of his family, could advocate for them judiciously. I didn’t want to hear about the great community it was and how they simply needed a figurehead to sit in Canberra making them feel safe and secure, I wanted to hear what could be done on a tangible level.

Mundine spoke to me about his commercial history, from multi-industry businesses to sitting on boards alongside the likes of some of Australia’s most influential CEOs; including CEDA, and the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council as well as numerous other private boards. What struck me was his approach to business and leadership. Discussing the books he spends his past time consuming, reminded me of my desire to get my hands on just about any book analysing political and commercial leadership I could find. Ongoing self-education is a forgotten discipline going into adulthood, so I appreciated the reliance on the stories of others who made it and those who failed dismally shining a light on a pathway for the rest of us.

Since his candidacy was announced, there has been criticism of his entry, believing that Warren Mundine was parachuted into the electorate at the cost of others.

Mundine’s wife, Elizabeth, discussed with me the response prepared by Mundine after the aforesaid comments were made. The letter response detailed how Mundine is a member of the Yuin nation, the traditional owners of the land and sea within Gilmore, as well as a voting member of the South Coast people native title claimant group (NC2017/003). Mundine’s grandparents were born and married within the Gilmore electorate, and his people have lived on that land for thousands of years.

Does this emotional bond to the area become irrelevant simply because the individual has spent many years working across other regions Australia-wide? Or does it in fact, strengthen their candidacy when you consider that they are bringing the wealth of experience, contacts and knowledge that such a background provides – to a community that has a soul tie to the individual?

Like many who drive their lives to have outcomes that significantly impact others, Mundine has a history that indicates perseverance, resilience and the ability to open doors where for many remain unopened. Leading psychologist Guy Winch once said to me that no one who has successful futures has had easy pasts. Acknowledging that backstory rather than hiding it, is what brings power to the present and as he frames it ‘the genesis to who you became’– the incident or past that drove you to become what you are today. It is the idea that reflecting on a moment in your history that forever changed and shapes a persons focus moving forward, to change their life and determine who and what they are. I pitched this question to Mundine.

He referenced the first thirteen years of his life, and particularly the challenges his parents overcame, but he soon focused on the belief they instilled in him; in that steady employment begets stability and opportunity. A lesson, he said, not just his parents, but theirs illustrated that also.

 

Mundine may not have been a permanent fixture in the electorate to date, but a fresh perspective bought to the community partnered with a depth of business acumen, contacts that can pull the levers and a history entwined with the seat of Gilmore is no insignificant offering.

 

Mundine may not have been a permanent fixture in the electorate to date, but a fresh perspective bought the community partnered with a depth of business acumen, contacts that can pull the levers and a history entwined with the seat of Gilmore is no insignificant offering.

What does Mundine want to focus on should the seat of Gilmore elect him as their Federal member?

Mundine broke down to me the layers within a community that requires a strong foundation which can support local business, employ locals and ensure sustainability in the area.

Mundine described to me that framework that any community needs to see both local businesses become sustainable, and I asked him if the focus is on providing the toolkits required to equip local business owners. Mundine quickly said, “not just equip, but work alongside them if they need that level of support, help them pay their BAS on time, make sure they understand tax implications, they need that level of hands-on support”.

Alongside Mundine’s commitment to local business owners, is his work also in helping locals in the area overcome barriers as first home buyers. Facilitating the opportunity for first homeowners to make their first purchase with a 5% deposit (Instead of 20%+ as previously required) provides another avenue allowing the community to build on a strong future.

Elizabeth commented that as cliché as it sounds, Warren is the representative who will open any door his community requires – an advocate that will make sure that he not only understands the nuances and complexities that the seat of Gilmore requires both now and in the future. Elizabeth explained, “If you’ve got Warren championing your cause, you’re in a really great position. He is passionate and he wants to deliver results, and he is really honest with people. Some make promises and placate, Warren doesn’t do that. If he doesn’t think it will work he will tell you, or he will figure out a way to make it work. If you have him on your side, and he is championing your cause, there is no door he won’t try to open, no person he won’t speak to and no solution he won’t get behind to make it happen”.

 

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