Olympian Zali Steggall Challenges Tony Abbott In Warringah
Former world champion skiier Zali Steggall has announced she will contest Tony Abbott's seat of Warringah as an independent in the federal election.
The former slalom world champion and 1998 Winter Olympics bronze medal winner from Manly now works as a barrister.
Steggall launched her campaign on Sunday morning, telling reporters she wanted to "offer a choice" to the people of Warringah,
"Climate change is not a political football," she said to cheers from the crowd.
"The science is in. It's time to act. What are we waiting for? We do not want to be remembered as the generation that had all the facts but failed to act."
She also launched an attack on Abbott saying he does not represent "who we are or what we stand for".
"Warringah has for too long had someone who is set in his ways, unwilling and unable to change," Steggall said.
She also vowed to work on improving healthcare services in the electorate, particularly around mental health.
Steggall said she has decided to stand as independent to give the people of Warringah a voice from "the sensible centre".
"I support sensible centre economic policies for a strong, stable economy and will resist proposed changes to negative gearing, franking credits and capital gains tax," she said.
Steggall said in an earlier statement that her policy priorities include effective climate strategy, the economy, health care, and improving politics.
"The most common concern is the lack of action on climate change," she said.
"People are also worried about the state of politics in this country, the lack of compassion on human rights, how rising congestion is disrupting our commutes, mental health and domestic violence."
Steggall received quick backing from current parliamentary independents Julia Banks -- who quit the Coalition in late 2018 -- and Kerryn Phelps, who mounted a similar insurgent campaign to wrestle the seat of Wentworth from the Liberal Party in a by-election.
Steggall is just the latest challenger to throw their hat in the ring in an increasingly crowded Warringah contest.
On Tuesday, Alice Thompson, a former adviser to Malcolm Turnbull, also announced she would contest Warringah as an independent.
Indigenous activist Susan Moylan-Coombs announced she would run as a candidate in December, while high-profile commentator Jane Caro was also reported to be considering nominating.
The seat has voted conservative since 1922 and Abbott, who first won the seat 25 years ago, holds it with a margin of about 15 per cent.
He faced nine opponents at the 2016 election.
The former Prime Minister has yet to officially comment on his new opponent but tweeted on Sunday morning saying "the Australia Day weekend is not one for heavy politics."
"But I’m going to keep pushing for the northern beaches tunnel to beat the traffic jams and for a safe and prosperous Australia as part of a good government," the tweet said.