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Tim Wilson ‘willing to give up everything’ in bid for seat of Goldstein

Tim Wilson is prepared to take a $200,000 pay cut to make “tough decisions”. Photo: Alex EllinghausenTim Wilson will give up his $400,000 Human Rights Commission job at the end of the week to demonstrate his willingness to sacrifice everything for his bid to enter federal politics.

Considering himself too young to have made the tilt at politics any earlier, Mr Wilson believes at the age of 35, it is now his time.

In conversation with the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations executive director Tony Farley in Sydney on Tuesday night, Mr Wilson said the opportunity to seek preselection for Andrew Robb’s safe Melbourne seat of Goldstein may be his only chance to enter Federal Parliament.

“I look at politics today and I worry that people aren’t prepared to take tough decisions. And I am quite proud of the fact that I am prepared to make tough decisions,” he said.

“I’m doing it because I genuinely think there is a need for principle today in politics and for the difficult discussions this country needs to have to be front and centre.”

A strong advocate of the free market, free speech and fan of former US president Ronald Reagan – whose life-size portrait hangs above his bed – Mr Wilson said he needs to demonstrate he is “willing to give up everything” to serve the seat of Goldstein. He would more than halve his current salary as an MP.

While admitting to being “an ambitious man” who hoped to one day “serve at a higher level” as a government minister, Mr Wilson stopped short of admitting he would like to one day become Prime Minister.

He will resign as Human Rights Commissioner later this week, just two years into his five-year term, and will run against Alexander Downer’s daughter, Georgina Downer, a frontrunner in the preselection race for Goldstein.

Mr Wilson was 34 when the Abbott government appointed the former policy director for the right-wing Institute of Public Affairs think tank, to the commission in 2013.

Attorney-General George Brandis, who hand-picked him for the commissioner’s job, on Monday said Mr Wilson had “single-handedly reshaped the human rights debate in Australia” just two years into his five-year term.

Senator Brandis said Mr Wilson had “restored balance to a debate which had previously been dominated by the priorities and prejudices of the left”.

As a young boy whose parents divorced when he was seven, Mr Wilson said his mother, a former hairdresser who works in a local supermarket, had raised three children on her own and taught him the “dignity of work”. When he asked her for pocket money, she encouraged him to get a job.

Mr Wilson said she had become his role model in life.

“What she taught me was despite the downs that come in life, you have to work hard and take responsibility for who you are in life,” he said.

His political heroes included Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman and the lesser known Republican Party official Pauline Sabin who fought for prohibition only to later fight for its repeal after realising she had made an error in judgement.

From the age of 12 to 18 he had suffered a crisis of confidence during his struggle with his sexual identity.

Mr Wilson told the Catholic Commission meeting that while he had once believed that being gay was his biggest curse, he now thinks of it as his “greatest blessing”.

A strong supporter of religious freedom, Mr Wilson said people of faith had a right to oppose gay marriage and were “welcome to their views”, but they were also at risk of becoming a “marginalised minority”. He acknowledged that some in the gay and lesbian community were now discriminating against religious groups.

He said the child sex abuse scandal had damaged the church’s reputation and moral authority in opposing gay marriage.

“When it comes down to it, the church needs to prove itself,” Mr Wilson said.

“The authority of the church is only ever going to be as strong as its conduct.”

Mr Wilson said the sustainability of Australian living standards was at risk and youth unemployment was at alarming levels.

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