James Mathison on 'standing up' to Tony Abbott


James Mathison didn't take the typical route into politics - he's worked as a television presenter, an actor, a musician and even an Australian Idol judge before his first foray into governance.

But now he's an independent candidate for the federal seat of Warringah in New South Wales, and is going head-to-head with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott for a place in parliament.

He says this year's election has probably "bored people to death" and derides the lack of strong alternatives to the current leadership.

"We're faced with two pretty similar propositions - there isn't a lot to separate them when you look at their policies on asylum seekers, on marriage equality, on the environment," Mr Mathison said.

"They're not that dissimilar, so for people it's a bit of a much of a muchness - and that's disappointing."

Mr Mathison wants to provide an alternative to that sameness, but admits a lot of people didn't take him seriously to begin with.

"It was a mixed reaction - people were like, 'Is this a joke?' and other people were like, 'Yes, finally someone to stand up to Tony Abbott,' and a lot of people were intrigued but weren't really sure what I stood for," he explained.

"So that's been the big challenge - convincing people that we're legitimate and that we can make a progressive change."

And Mr Mathison isn't exactly full of kind words for Mr Abbott.

"His eating onions, the 'suppository of all wisdom' [gaffe], the budgie smugglers - I mean, it goes on and on, you know," he said.

"Does New Zealand think, 'How did that guy get in charge?' Because that's what we're thinking!"

But he did have nice things to say about our own national leader.

"We look at John Key and we're like, 'Wow, if we could have half of him, we'd be happy.'"