The race for Dr Brendan Nelson's former seat has heated up, with Marianna Leishman - former Allens lawyer-turned-pole-dancer and Australian Sex Party (ASP) candidate - announcing she will swap the law - and the stage - for politics.
Leishman will run for the Bradfield seat at the election in December under the assumed name of Zahra Stardust. The 26-year-old made the announcement at the Erotic Film Festival last week, saying she believes it's time the traditionally conservative seat of Bradfield, situated on Sydney's North Shore, entered the modern era.
Leishman started her career at Allens as a paralegal in 2005. According to a spokesperson at the firm, she worked in a variety of areas, but most recently as a graduate lawyer in the intellectual property team. The spokesperson said that Leishman informed the firm last month that she would be leaving to pursue other interests.
Leishman appears to have made some impressive contributions to the law during her relatively short career. She is pictured and quoted on the Allens Arthur Robinson website, following her travelling clerk project that she undertook at the Native Title Representative Body.
She has also interned at the United Nations Population Fund, campaigned with Amnesty International and Oxfam Australia, and has worked at the Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women's Legal Centre.
Leishman has her own website, though the site may not necessarily be to the taste of most legal offices.
Meanwhile, the ASP describes Leishman as a feminist writer, a human rights advocate, a burlesque dancer and trapeze artist, with an ASP statement introducing her as a "strong, Generation Y woman who believes in changing the world from upside down and using the stage as a space to talk about social injustice".
Leishman has declared her political platform for the area of Bradfield, announcing that she is pushing to restore the "imbalance" of the electorate's policy objectives, while also ensuring that the rights of women and youth in the area are fully represented.
"In an area that claims 50 years of conservative representation from white, heterosexual, able-bodied, suited, male protagonists, the ASP is excited to provide a modern, outward-looking female candidate with social justice credentials to restore a historical imbalance in the electorate's policy focus," she said.
She added that she is concerned that abortion still remains illegal for Bradfield women, and that she is also determined to stamp out discrimination in the area experienced by residents due to the nature of their work.
Meanwhile, Leishman is also pushing for the Federal Government to legalise gay marriage and ensure that the rights of the gay and lesbian population are being assured.
According to the statement, Leishman has degrees in Law, Arts and a Masters in Gender and Cultural Studies. She has also been a finalist in numerous competitions, including Most Unique Entertainer at the Miss Nude NSW contest in 2009 and in the Miss Pole Dance Australia competition of 2008.
The election takes place on December 5. Labor will not contest the seat
- Angela Priestley
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