Not 4, but 8 women making history in Coogee

by | Women in Business

It’s a miracle. On International Women’s Day 2023, Coogee has made history. For the first time in colonial history, there are four women running for the seat of Coogee in the state election. Furthermore, there are four women who run the local chamber of commerce, Business Coogee. These four business leaders have interviewed these four politicians for an IWD article of historical proportions. Read on Coogee and vote with consideration… Published in the order the candidates got back to us. You snooze, you lose…

Dr Kylie von Muenster, Liberal Party NSW

Dr Marjorie O’Neill, Member for Coogee, Labor Party (incumbent)

Alicia Mosquera, Informed Medical Options Party

Rafaela Pandolfini, The Greens


Dr Kylie von Muenster

Liberal Party NSW

Words by Lucy Bloom, President of Business Coogee

Everyone knows who Kylie von Muenster is. Her mug is on posters all over the electorate. That’s what you have to do to make your name (and face) known when you’re the brand new Libs candidate in a swing seat. Coogee is hotly contested in every state election and the Liberal Party lost by only 1500 votes in 2019. Well, Kylie von Muenster is up for the fight and her cape is blue. When asked why on earth a sane woman would consider politics, Kylie explained that she had been a member of the Liberal party for more than 12 years.

She’s a qualified speech pathologist and worked in the family law firm.

Once her kids hit high school, Kylie worked for Wentworth MP Dave Sharma as his Community Liaison Officer. “I loved working for Dave and being able to get into the community to deliver the good stuff that politicians are able to do: grants and such,” said Kylie. Then in 2022, she attended a Liberal Party event and noticed how few women are senior party members.

“I could whinge about it, or I could change it, so I decided to run for the seat of Coogee, my local area.”

In 2022 Kylie also represented the Liberal Party at Mardi Gras and bystanders threw toilet paper – and she still wanted to go into politics.

Speaking of women, I asked Kylie how she rationalises the appalling record that the Liberal Party has when it comes to women. No punches were pulled in the making of this interview. Kylie had a think. “Well, I can’t do anything about the past but I want to be part of the solution. The slogan for the NSW election is ‘Keep NSW Moving Forward’ so I am going to keep moving forward for an equitable future. More women in politics is a good start.”

When asked for the number one reason why the people of Coogee should vote for Liberal candidate Kylie von Muenster, she replied confidently, “Well, I’m the prettiest candidate of course! How good do I look in blue?” No, she didn’t say that AT ALL. Kylie thought carefully and said,

“I am genuinely here to do my absolute best for the Coogee electorate. The Liberal Party has done a great job running this state for 11 years and I want to be part of the momentum we have created. I really believe in the core beliefs of the Liberal Party.”

Kylie sent me those beliefs in a follow up email and the main gist is this: The Libs believe in the rights and freedoms of all people and working towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives and maximises support for business success and those who work hard.

I tell you what, Kylie is working hard.

She has door knocked thousands of homes, met with business and community leaders, dragged the roads minister in to fix a pothole (might have made that up) and done a lot of listening to what people really need from their state member. Come election day, consider a candidate who will work hard for you, listen and act.

Disclosure: Kylie von Muenster is a paid up member of Business Coogee and on the day we met for this interview, she generously paid for the two sparkling waters we drank on the steps at the beach, at a total cost of $8 including GST.

Marjorie O Neill

Dr Marjorie O’Neill

Member for Coogee, Labor Party (incumbent)

Words by Annie de Merindol, Vice President of Business Coogee

Unless you’ve been living under an upturned tinnie at the north end of Coogee the past few years, you’ll be familiar with Marjorie O’Neill, who pipped Bruce Notley-Smith at the post to be elected to the seat of Coogee in March 2019. Whether it’s campaigning to stop the privatisation of local bus services including fan-favourite, our beloved 373, to fighting to retain vital paediatric cardiac services or for much-needed public school funding, it’s hard to deny Marjorie’s energy and commitment to Coogee.

Not to mention the other ‘C word’. Nobody was prepared for the impact COVID would have on the community and our public health system, and Marjorie’s office was vital in distilling massive amounts of NSW Government communications during that time into what mattered most for locals. As well as daily and weekly updates, there were “numerous briefings and meeting with local business owners to ensure that they were supported during tough times,” she explained via email.

“I hope people see me as a hard-working representative of my community who genuinely reflects the hopes, aspirations, and needs of my constituents. I have consistently and exhaustively sought my community’s views and fought for what they want.”

An eastern suburbs ‘lifer’, O’Neill’s family have lived and worked in the Clovelly area for 5 generations, which she reckons gives her a unique insight into ‘matters of the heart’ in Coogee. Bus cuts, for starters. Following the completion of the Light Fail Rail, the NSW Liberal Government scrapped 31 bus routes and over 60 bus stops in the area. What’s the latest on that, I asked? The short answer is: 100,000 signatures and a few rallies later, the 373 was saved! Marjorie added that “if Labor is elected in NSW, we will be reinstating key local services including the 378, the 373 and 339 (to Circular Quay), and the 400.

I also quizzed Marjorie on her office’s key achievements in climate action. “A non partisan approach is vital in addressing the climate crisis. It’s essential we all work together,” she responded.

“Something you may not know about me is that I’m an avid bee keeper! So I’ve worked with community groups to help protect our local bee population by donating hives and bee-friendly seed mixes.”

“I’ve also led campaigns such as adopting a drain to reduce the flow of rubbish into our waterways and led the recycling of food, clothing, and white goods, resulting not only in a reduction of waste but just as importantly the redirection of resources to those in need.”

Believe it or not, your local Member still manages a social life. Swimming at Clovelly is her favourite pastime, along with catching a movie or two at the Ritz, eating out, and enjoying the coastal walk with her greatest fan, Hermes. Shame he has 4 legs and can’t vote!

Disclosure: I voted for Marjorie in 2019. She door-knocked me (the first politician ever to do so, like, ever) and asked me genuinely about what issues were important to me, then stuck around long enough to hear my responses.

Alicia Mosquera

Not a Doctor Alicia Mosquera

Informed Medical Options Party

Words by Chat GPT and Arlys Olson, Treasurer of Business Coogee

Given that Alicia did not respond (in time) to our request for an interview, we asked ChatGTP to generate a profile story on the candidate for Coogee who comes under the banner of the Informed Medical Options Party.

Our pal the AI text generator wrote a very boring introduction which used the word dedicated far too often, so we asked the platform to “make it funny” and this is far more our style:

“Alicia Mosquera is the queen of healthcare partying, and we’re not talking about dancing on tables with stethoscopes around your neck. No, no. Mosquera co-founded the Informed Medical Options Party (IMOP), which sounds like the kind of party where everyone brings their medical records and talks about their health issues. Mosquera is a nursing superhero with a Master’s degree in Public Health from Harvard University.”

Unfortunately, we carefully fact-checked this and Alicia Mosquera, the candidate for Coogee, does not hail from Harvard. She’s a naturopath, born and bred in the east and went to uni at Western Sydney.

When asked if IMOP was an anti-vax mob, ChatGTP tip-toed carefully. “While some members of the party may have concerns about vaccines, IMOP does not describe itself as an anti-vaccine group. The party’s focus is on promoting informed consent and medical freedom, which includes the right to choose what medical treatments or procedures individuals feel are best for their own health. IMOP believes that people should have access to accurate information and be able to make their own decisions about their healthcare without coercion or mandates.”

But shouldn’t a doctor be making recommendations rather than a patient going on “feel”? And make your answer unboring, please…

“So, if IMOP is saying that patients should rely on their ‘gut feeling’ when making medical decisions, that’s quite a ‘gutsy’ move. While doctors have years of education and training, patients have years of personal experience with their own bodies. It’s like that tug-of-war between the head and the gut. But in all seriousness, it’s important for patients to be informed and involved in their healthcare decisions, while also considering the expertise and advice of their healthcare providers.”

We asked all four candidates who are running for the seat of Coogee this final question: What’s the number one reason that the people of Coogee should vote for you in the state election?

“As an AI language model, I cannot endorse political candidates or parties. However, I can provide you with some general information about Alicia Mosquera and her political platform…” Fat lot of good that is! So we asked again using better prompt words…

“Looking for a candidate who’s a real ‘shot in the arm’ for healthcare reform? Look no further than Alicia Mosquera! As a co-founder of the Informed Medical Options Party, Mosquera is dedicated to promoting informed medical decision-making and individual choice in healthcare. And let’s be real, who doesn’t love having options?”

Disclosure: ChatGTP cranks words like nobody’s business, gets the facts wrong and loves a good play on words, but a real interview with a real human is always best.

Disclosure update: Alicia did get back to us regarding our request for an interview, and she sounded very nice indeed over the phone, she was just too late for this publication. Better late than never!

Rafaela Pandolfini

Rafaela Pandolfini

The Greens

Words by Cyn Colli, Executive Member Business Coogee

We got to the point nice and fast with Greens candidate Rafaela Pandolfini because she hammered out all her interview answers in writing. Knowing she’s an activist, I read each bullet point as if they’re marks of angry index finger pokes at the chest of Big Government (Side note: Wouldn’t government be way more fun to watch if it were a big chest-poking, Stooges style face-off? Nyuk nyuk nyuk)

The Greens are well-known for banging the drum nice and loud for women. So what is the number one issue for the women of Coogee?

“Women make up the majority of the education and health sector workforce, and it is these areas that the Liberal government has suffocated for years with stagnant wages and conditions.”

Suffocation seems a little extreme but so are the Greens, if we’re honest. So then, Rafaela suffocated us with these bullet points on Greens’ policy…but read on because there’s a pay rise on offer!


  • Immediately give all NSW public school teachers a minimum 15% pay rise plus an assessment of inflation over the next 2 years
  • Provide an increase in 2 hours per week of Relief from Face to Face (RFF) teaching for all public-school primary teachers in NSW and 2 hours less face-to-face teaching for all High School teachers
  • Deliver 100% of the School Resourcing Standard across NSW (we dunno what this is)
  • Develop a workforce plan to recruit and retain 12,000 new teachers over the next 10 years


  • Introducing safe nurse-to-patient ratios and groovier uniforms (might have made that one up)
  • Abolishing the public sector wage cap
  • Giving a real pay rise to our healthcare workers with annual pay rises above inflation
  • Bolstering the public community health sector so you can access a GP, allied health professional, dentist or mental health professional through your local public community health centre – for free.

Sounds pretty good. Lots of bolstering, raising of standards and pay rises…

When asked why a sane, educated woman would go into the bear pit of politics, Rafaela admitted that for a long while, she was a bit of a lame Greenie, “doing a lot of complaining and not a lot of action.” Then the bushfires of 2019 hit Australia and she WAS NOT ON HOLIDAY IN HAWAII. 🌴 Rafaela was horrified by the continuing debate on whether climate change was even real as Australia burned.

“If you read the news all the time it can be particularly bleak, but if you are participating, especially at a local level, change can feel possible”

So basically, she pulled her finger out and started shaking trees and making waves.

Rafaela has come a long way and is now the Deputy Mayor of Randwick and a Greens Councillor.

We all know that council meetings can be a circus, so why take the extra step into state politics? “Politics is not a pleasant environment for women. If you think the news out of Federal politics last year was bleak for women, the reality in State and Local governments is just as bad, if not worse. But women need to be represented and the Coogee electorate is 52% women.” So effectively, Rafaela is taking one for the team and going hell-for-vegan-leather into State politics to clean up the mess the Libs have made of women, the environment and the rest.

The Greens are also well-known for putting their lives on the line for the environment. Never met a Greens candidate who wouldn’t chain themselves to something. But did you know the Greens will also chain themselves to a shonky landlord? “The Greens are so often charged with being radical but many of the things that we have been advocating for over the years quietly become policies of the major parties. For example, just last week there was a commitment to act on unfair rental evictions by both State Labor and Liberal if they were elected. This was the outcome of 8 years of pressure by the Greens.” Hazzah!

She went on: ‘The Greens will get dental into medicare, demand rent freezes, scrap the salary cap for teachers and nurses and introduce free public transport to re-enliven town centre’s and promote public transport usage.” Rafaela is an activist, quite comfortable to pick various fights on behalf of the people of Coogee – especially those 52% womenfolk, as well as artists, creatives, problem pokie gamblers, and everyone in between.

And finally, what is the number one reason that voters in Coogee should vote for the Greens candidate?

“Representation. There is a move away from the major parties for a reason and that is due to a lack of transparency, erosion of trust and complete inaction on inequity and the climate. Voting for the NSW Greens means that we can hold the government to account and ensure that the cost of living and the environment is tackled in earnest.”

I can’t help but imagine her in a cape, blasting climate deniers, dodgy landlords, pokie machines and workplace burnout with solar-powered lasers charged with the rage of a thousand suns. Kapow!

Disclosure: we didn’t have anything to disclose on Rafaela’s profile interview so we will exclaim instead. Vote for women! 



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