By the time the State Election takes place on March 23, Gosford MP, Liesl Tesch, will have spent almost two years in the job that she says still has her “pinching herself” every day.
Elected at a by-election in April, 2017, following the resignation and subsequent death of sitting MP Kathy Smith, Tesch said she had had “a ball every day serving the community” since her election.
“I feel as though I have been kicking some goals, despite a short term and even though Labor is in Opposition,” Tesch said.
“I have been pushing for better resources around homelessness and disability services and accessibility, and have some wins there.”
One such victory was attaining access for the disabled to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
“I was astounded that there was no way for people with a physical disability to access that bridge and, following a rally I organised at the bottom of the bridge, a lift was installed just in time for the Invictus Games.
“I saw that as a major victory.”
The first wheelchair user to be elected to State Parliament, Tesch has also fought long and hard for full inclusion for the disabled at Parliament House, and has had input into future planning with the Government Architect.
“Some of the planning was not up to standard and things are on hold until they are made really inclusive,” she said.
“It’s been an ongoing battle, but we are a step closer.”
Nearer to home, Tesch has taken full advantage of the numerous community contacts she had made through a career as a teacher and elite sportswoman to “really get to know” her electorate.
“Learning to negotiate the various government agencies has been frustrating at times, and I feel many people have lost faith in the system,” she said.
“I get hugged in the street a lot, and I think people know that I live in their city, share their values and will fight for them.
“I have good open relationships with a lot of families and feel I have much left to do.”
Already endorsed to re-contest the seat for the Labor Party, Tesch said one of the top items on her agenda for a second term would be working hard towards a long-term solution to the Ettalong Channel dredging problem.
“The closure of the channel late in 2018 hit the community so hard,” she said.
“It was extremely disruptive and it is important to set up an appropriate relationship with Central Coast Council so we can form a joint policy which is proactive rather than reactive, going forward.”
As well as tackling the demands of being an MP, Tesch has been studying ethics in politics, social justice and human rights in what little downtime she has.
Even so, partner, Mark Thomson, is fully supportive of her political career.
“Because I used to do so much travelling while involved in competitive sports, I actually spend more nights at home than I did previously,” Tesch said.
The MP will host a Sail Against the Polly event at Gosford Sailing Club on February 27, 2019, and urges interested residents to call the club for details of the twilight sail.
Interview, Jan 25
Gosford MP Liesl Tesch
Reporter: Terry Collins