Trent Zimmerman

Trent Moir Zimmerman (born 15 October 1968) is an Australian politician. He was elected to succeed Joe Hockey as the Liberal Party of Australia member of the House of Representatives seat of North Sydney at the 2015 by-election. Zimmerman is one of eight openly LGBTI current members of the Parliament of Australia and the first openly LGBTI member of the House of Representatives.[2][3]

Trent Zimmerman

Member of the Australian Parliament
for North Sydney
Assumed office
5 December 2015
Preceded byJoe Hockey
Councillor of North Sydney Council
for Wollstonecraft Ward
In office
27 March 2004  8 September 2012
Personal details
Trent Moir Zimmerman

(1968-10-15) 15 October 1968
Sydney, Australia
Political partyLiberal Party
Domestic partnerCarlos Toledo[1]
  • Roy Zimmerman OAM
  • Brenda Zimmerman
EducationNewington College
Alma materUniversity of Sydney

He was a vice-president and acting-President[4] of the NSW Division of the Liberal Party of Australia and was also previously Deputy Chief Executive and director, Transport Policy, of the Tourism and Transport Forum of Australia.[5] He is a member of the board of Epilepsy Action Australia.[6]

Early life

Zimmerman was born in Sydney[7] and is one of two children of Roy and Brenda Zimmerman. His father, Roy Zimmerman OAM, was Master-in-Charge of the GPS preparatory school Wyvern House from 1966 until 1996.[8] Zimmerman attended Newington College, commencing in Wyvern House in 1974 and completing his HSC in 1986.[9]


After working in the Parliament of New South Wales, Zimmerman became a ministerial adviser in the federal government of John Howard in the environment and heritage portfolio and later as an adviser to then Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey.

He was President of the Young Liberal Movement of NSW from 1992 to 1993.[10] Zimmerman was a councillor on North Sydney Council for two terms until the local government elections of 2012.[11] During his time as a councillor, Zimmerman lived openly as a gay man and worked actively on LGBTI issues, describing the de-funding of the NorthAIDS program as "unforgivable".[11] He also served as Vice President of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association.[11] In the September 2008 Council Elections, Zimmerman ran for the position of Mayor of North Sydney, against the long-serving incumbent since 1995, Genia McCaffery. He was unsuccessful, taking only 40% of the vote, and later commented that "I worked very hard at it and I have no qualms at the issues I raised".[12] During his time at Council, Zimmerman advocated on environmental issues around developments, including leading opposition to a controversial development in Vale Street, Cammeray.[13]

In 2012, Zimmerman was anointed as the Liberal left's candidate for the seat held by Jillian Skinner; but Skinner decided to stay on in parliament, deferring Zimmerman's political ambitions.[14]

Federal parliament

Zimmerman won the 2015 North Sydney by-election with a 48.2 percent primary vote after a larger-than-predicted 12.8-point swing against the Liberals − more than triple that of the 2015 Canning by-election. It was only the second time since Federation that the Liberals (or their predecessors) did not obtain a majority of the primary vote. Remarkably, this came in the absence of a Labor candidate; Labor has only come close to winning this normally safely conservative seat once, in 1943.[2][15] The Liberal two-candidate vote of 60.2 percent against independent Stephen Ruff compares to the previous election vote of 65.9 percent against Labor.[15] The reduction of 5.7 points is not generally considered a "two-party/candidate preferred swing" − when a major party is absent, preference flows to both major parties does not take place, resulting in asymmetric preference flows.[16][17]

Zimmerman was preselected as the Liberal by-election candidate which was triggered by the resignation of former treasurer Joe Hockey. Zimmerman's appointment was controversial, with now-suspended party member Juris Laucis describing the process as "undemocratic" and "a stitch-up"[4] and reform activist and former Liberal party member John Ruddick[18] called for Liberal voters feeling disenfranchised to send a message to the party by giving Zimmerman their last preference.[19] Political journalist Peter Hartcher attributed his preselection to his being an ally of Michael Photios, "the power behind the NSW machine".[18] Whilst a candidate for preselection, Zimmerman was also the head of the body that sets the rules for party elections, a position his opponents described as a "complete conflict of interest."[20] Ted Mack, Hockey's predecessor in the seat, ran a campaign against Zimmerman on behalf of Stephen Ruff, the independent who ran second in the by-election.[2][21]

Zimmerman is one of eight openly LGBTI current members of the Parliament of Australia and the first openly LGBTI member of the House of Representatives.[22][3][23] Zimmerman has indicated he will speak out on LGBTI issues and declared his support for gay marriage in Australia[22] and stated "I would have supported a free vote and preferred it to be decided by the Parliament. But that's the path we are going to go down so I will be strongly advocating, both in North Sydney and more broadly, a Yes vote for that plebiscite".[24]

Zimmerman was sworn into parliament on 2 February 2016.[25]

See also


  1. "North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman launched his election campaign tonight with his partner Carlos Toledo by his side". Mosman Daily.
  2. Gartrell, Adam (5 December 2015). "Liberal Trent Zimmerman wins North Sydney byelection despite swing". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  3. When an election’s not a battle but a limp formality: Daily Telegraph 26 November 2015
  4. "Trent Zimmerman wins Liberal Party pre-selection to contest Joe Hockey's North Sydney seat". ABC News. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  5. TTF Australia. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  6. Directors of the Board
  7. "Trent Zimmerman - North Sydney | Liberal Party NSW". Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  8. Kirk, Sigrid (23 June 1989). "Politicians in the making". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  9. Newington College Register of Past Students 1863–1998 (Syd, 1999)
  10. Young Liberals. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  11. "Gay mayor for north shore?". Star Observer. 20 April 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  12. Tatnell, Paul (17 September 2008). "Councillor's stab at the top job falls short". The Mosman Daily. Archived from the original on 28 September 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  13. Muxworthy, Lisa (21 July 2009). "Decision on Vale St a win for residents". The Mosman Daily. Archived from the original on 26 September 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  14. Aston, Heath (30 December 2012). "Skinner drops re-election bomb on aspiring MPs". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  15. 2015 North Sydney by-election: Antony Green ABC
  16. "A Comment on the Size of the Port Adelaide Swing, Antony Green". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 February 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  17. An Example of Non-Monotonicity and Opportunites [sic] for Tactical Voting at an Australian Election: Antony Green ABC 4 May 2011
  18. Hartcher, Peter (31 October 2015). "Liberals thumb their noses at party reform". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  19. Ruddick, John (24 November 2015). "Why I'm putting Trent Zimmerman last on North Sydney byelection ballot". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  20. Robertson, James (26 October 2015). "North Sydney preselection for Joe Hockey's safe seat under cloud of a political fix". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  21. Aston, Heath (10 November 2015). "Ted Mack working to install an independent in Joe Hockey's old seat". The Age. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  22. Power, Shannon (7 December 2015). "Canberra's first openly gay MP Trent Zimmerman reflects on historic win". Star Observer. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  23. Birnbauer, William (9 September 2007). "Gender changes, but a wife's love stays". The Age. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  24. Liberal candidate Trent Zimmerman wins by-election in North Sydney seat vacated by Joe Hockey: ABC 6 December 2015
  25. Shannon Power (2 February 2016). "Swearing-in "was like first day at school" – new gay MP Trent Zimmerman". Star Observer.
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Joe Hockey
Member for North Sydney
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