Liberal MP John Alexander has confirmed he will fight the next election against Labor’s new star candidate “Mr Medicare” Dr Brian Owler.
The former Australian Medical Association president was described as “Mr Medicare” Tuesday as Bill Shorten confirmed Dr Owler will run in John Howard’s former seat.
The announcement in Sydney came just hours after locally-endorsed candidate Lyndal Howison wrote to party members telling them she had withdrawn from the race.
“Mr Medicare is coming to Canberra to ensure we put Medicare and health care right up the top,” Mr Shorten said
Mr Alexander, 67, a former tennis champion and commentator, said he was ready for the fight.
The installation of Dr Owler follows his Mr Alexander’s win by a reduced margin in the Bennelong by-election against former NSW premier Kristina Keneally last December, sparked by the surprise discovery he held dual citizenship.
“I said when I ran in the by-election that I would contest the next election,” he told The New Daily.
“I’m more committed than ever.”
Asked what he thought of Dr Owler, Mr Alexander replied: “I don’t know him.”
Bennelong was once considered a safe Liberal seat until Mr Howard was turfed out by Maxine McKew at the 2007 federal election
Dr Owler was elected president of the AMA in 2014 and was previously president of the AMA in NSW, where he led several campaigns to reduce the incidence of preventable deaths and injuries in children.
Mr Shorten made much of Dr Owler’s work defending Medicare.
“Mr Medicare is coming to Canberra to make sure that we put Medicare and health care right up the top,” the Opposition Leader said.
“This is a decision I’ve obviously thought long and hard about,” Dr Owler said.
Dr Brian Owler: It is an honour to have the opportunity to be the Labor candidate for Bennelong at the next federal election.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) October 29, 2018
He said he had fought hard to defend Medicare and “our excellent Australian health care system” against attacks from the Liberal Coalition government.
“I think this nation is sick and tired of not having their opinions listened to,” Dr Owler said.