9 November 2023

by Grahame Lynch

The Federal Liberals have preselected Gisele Kapterian as their candidate for the federal seat of North Sydney.

However, the exact status of North Sydney’s boundary is up in the air at the moment with a general expectation that it may need to radically shift to accommodate the relatively under-quota status of most northern Sydney seats.

Kapterian is a moderate, beating out conservative rival Jess Collins by around 145 to 106 votes.

Kapterian is an international trade lawyer by profession, having worked in Switzerland and more recently, lectured on the topic at Macquarie University. She has also worked as a senior adviser to federal ministers in the foreign affairs, industry and tourism portfolios during the Abbott and Turnbull governments, moving in 2018 to cloud giant Salesforce, where she works as Senior Director – Public Sector Strategy APAC.

She is also a board member of the Armenian National Committee of Australia, the peak public affairs organisation in the Armenian-Australian community.

According to her Salesforce bio, “her responsibilities and achievements while in government include helping drive and shape the Australian Government’s tech future strategy, trade components of the Foreign Policy White Paper, and elevating and prioritising digital trade issues, including helping drive the digital trade agenda initiative at the 11th WTO Ministerial. As an international trade lawyer, Gislele advised sovereign governments and the private sector on trade matters, appearing as counsel before dispute resolution panels and the World Trade Organization Appellate Body.”

The big question though is whether North Sydney will survive in its current form. One hypothesis could see Warringah’s boundaries move west and take in the rest of the North Sydney LGA, with Bradfield to the north and Bennelong to the west swallowing the rest of the electorate. Although the expanded Warringah would likely be renamed North Sydney out of deference to the latter’s Federation status, there could be questions about whether Kapterian could run as a candidate when she was preselected by electors mostly no longer in the seat. The Liberal Party itself is proposing that North Sydney take in Mosman and Manly under the above scenario.

The Australian Electoral Commission will be considering boundary changes through next year with two scenarios: an early election fought on the existing boundaries or a later election in 2025 fought on new ones.

Under the current boundaries, Kapterian will take on incumbent Kylea Tink but under new boundaries could find herself taking on Zali Steggall, the Warringah MP.

The Liberals have decided to preselect their candidates early this time after the debacle in 2022 where even incumbent MPs weren’t formally preselected until weeks out from the election.