by Greg Martin
A year spent in Mexico as an exchange student by Susan Templeman forged in her a passion to look after the less fortunate in our society and in doing so, shaped her political bent.
Susan had just completed her Higher School Certificate at Strathfield Girls High when she went to Mexico and spent all of 1981 at Los Mochis, in Sinaloa province which abuts the Gulf of California.
“I became aware of the iniquities that exist in society and it triggered a real sense of social justice,” Susan explained.
On her return to Australia Susan was impressed by the reforms initiated by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
“I was able to witness the power of legislation and policy to bring change and progress but it wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I considered getting into politics.
“I wasn’t happy with the direction Australia was taking under the Howard Government.
“I particularly became aware of the challenge of school funding and the mental health of teenagers and saw the pain suffered by their families.”
Susan began her journey in involvement in community affairs through her appointment as president of Winmalee Public’s school council and then the presidency of Winmalee High’s P&C.
When Labor’s Bob Debus announced his retirement from politics in the lead-up to the 2010 Federal election Susan won pre-selection and stood against the Liberal Party’s Louise Markus who went on take the seat.
Susan lost out again to Louise Markus in 2013 but that made her more determined than ever to try again.
“Labor people needed to see that I wasn’t going to walk away if unsuccessful,” Susan said.
So third time proved it for Susan at the July 2016 election, winning a 6.7% two-party preferred swing towards her and a 4.5% swing on primary votes.
So who is Susan Templeman?
Her parents, Jan and Bob Templeman, ran a newsagency in Strathfield and she was educated at the local high school before spending that most informative year in Mexico.
On her return home she completed a three year Bachelor of Arts (Communications) degree during which time she honed her radio skills working in community radio and then as an assistant producer to Mike Carlton at 2GB.
“I worked for Mike for two years and then accepted a position as a political reporter for 2UE in Canberra where I was fortunate enough to work alongside legends of political journalism such as Alan Ramsey, Laurie Oakes, Peter Harvey and Mungo MacCallum,” Susan said.
She remained in Canberra until 1988 before moving to New York as 2UE’s US correspondent and then the following year she joined Today FM and relocated to London as their foreign correspondent.
Susan was back home in Sydney at the end of 1990 and since then has operated her own business teaching people how to perform at their best in media interviews.
“I ran the business for 25 years before resigning to seek and take-up this exciting role as the Member for Macquarie,” Susan said.
She and husband, Ron, met when they were at university and they have two children, Phoebe, 25, and 22-year-old Harry.
On their return to Australia from London, Ron and Susan built a home at Winmalee which sadly was one of many homes burnt to the ground during the terrifying bushfires in 2013.
“We are now renting in Hazelbrook and are in the process of rebuilding on our old home site,” Susan said.
The family lost just about everything during the bushfire including a prized violin given to her by her mother soon after she commenced learning the instrument at 10 years.
Susan was shattered to lose the precious instrument and says she “just couldn’t bring myself to get a replacement”.
But Ron knows the way to woman’s heart and at a family gathering to celebrate Susan’s 53rd birthday in June, he presented his wife with a brand new violin.
As well as playing the violin, Susan enjoys reading, gardening and tapestry – “not that I find much time these days to devote much time to any of those pursuits”.