Devanand Sharma, or Dave Sharma as he is popularly known, is the true face of contemporary Australia.
The Liberal candidate for Wentworth, Sharma is facing Independent Kerryn Phelps, Labor’s Tim Murray, the Green’s Dominic Ky Wanac and another independent Licia Heath.
Forty-two-year-old Sharma beat seven candidates to win preselection at the crucial Wentworth seat in Sydney vacated by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The by-elections are scheduled for this Saturday and his victory will without doubt underscore the contribution of immigrants to this society. Although the Liberals had a 17% margin under Turnbull, the fight is intensifying over Wentworth.
Sharma has a lot going for him. He is the ideal candidate to represent Australia in South Asia and the Middle East. In 2013, Sharma was appointed Ambassador to Israel by Bob Carr, making him the youngest ever diplomat to be anointed to that post from Australia. Before he boarded the flight for Israel, Sharma said he wanted to change the way Australians looked at the Middle East.
According to him, the Middle East is not about conflicts, but is about innovation and technology. As an Ambassador, his work has been closely aligned in understanding Israel as a technology powerhouse. Throughout his tenure, he advocated for more collaboration between Israeli and Australian universities.
Sharma truly understands Israel and the Middle East like no one else in the current government. The electorate in Wentworth has a significant Jewish population—there are around 20,000 Jewish people in Wentworth, according to the 2016 census, making up 12.5% of the population—and Sharma’s experience in Israel and with the community may come to his rescue to sustain the margin handed down to him by Turnbull.
His ancestry and lineage will position Australia in an amazingly advantageous position when it comes to foreign policy towards India and the rest of South Asia. You don’t have to be of Indian origin to deal with India, but it surely has plus points.
Born in Vancouver in Canada, Sharma’s family moved to Parramatta in 1979 when he was four. The Sharmas were perhaps the first family to have an Indian surname in the area. A very different to the Parramatta we know now. The Sharmas were part of the change that was enveloping Sydney’s west then.
Sharma’s Indian lineage goes back to his granddad who moved to Trinidad in 1908 from India. His granddad was from Uttar Pradesh, one of the largest states in India. Little is known in the public domain about Sharma’s grandfather’s life, but one can only imagine the hardships any immigrant would have faced in the early 20th century in Trinidad, and then later in Canada, when it was predominantly a white society.
Sharma’s dad married his Australian mum in Canada. Eight years after they moved to Australia, Sharma lost his mum to breast cancer. His dad raised his two siblings and him alone since then. A childhood centred on education, Sharma topped the state in the HSC and got first class honours in law from the University of Cambridge.
Dave Sharma can perhaps do wonders in building a strong alliance between Australia, India, Japan and Israel. Such a strategic alliance will propel jobs and set Australia on a path towards technological advancement that will help generations to come. With China’s rise and dominance, Australia needs Japan, India and Israel as partners to maintain a balance of power in the region, without which China will have undue bargaining power. It’s of significant importance to Australia to rest its leadership in the right hands before this journey gets tougher. Dave Sharma has the right skills and has an amazing story to guide him through to a comfortable victory this Saturday.