The pinnacle of Sam Lim’s career—until Saturday night when he ousted one of Scott Morrison’s closest advisers from what had been a safe Liberal chair—was his time in Malaysia as a dolphin trainer.
“My best job ever,” he said. “Dolphin trainer. I love it because dolphins are so real, dolphins never hurt you. If you feel hurt, jump in the pool. The dolphin will come to you and try to comfort you.
“If you get angry, you jump in the pool, they run away. They can just feel you.”
Lim, who speaks nine languages, took the aquatic mammal job after realizing he could not live on the wages of a police officer in Malaysia, where he grew up in a “very poor family”.
The roof of the house he lived in as a child was always leaking, he recalls. No electricity, no running water and the floor was “just earth”.
“So we have to struggle for the first 15 years of my life, but those 15 years have shaped me until today,” he said.
“When I went to fight these candidates to win the seat, I used all that determination I gained in the first 15 years of my life and I have achieved it.”
Labour’s Lim caused one of the biggest upheavals in the country by evicting Morrison’s right-hand man, Ben Morton, from the blue-ribboned seat of Tangney in Perth’s southern suburbs.