‘Best job ever’: Dolphin trainer flips seat of Tangney in Perth

Federal election 2022

The highlight 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 seat – was his time working in Malaysia as a dolphin trainer.

“My best job ever,” he said. “Dolphin trainer. I love it because dolphins are so genuine, dolphins never hurt you. If you feel hurt, you jump into the swimming pool. The dolphin will come to you and try to comfort you.

Sam Lim, with WA Labor senator Glenn Sterle, said: “We have to struggle for the first 15 years of my life, but that 15 years built me up to today.”Credit:Hamish Hastie

“When you got angry you jump into the pool, they run away. They just can feel you.”

Lim, who can speak nine languages, took the job with the aquatic mammals after realising he could not make ends meet on a police officer’s wage in Malaysia, where he grew up in a “very poor family”.

The roof of the home in which he lived as a child was always leaking, he remembers. No power, no running water and the floor was “just earth”.

“So we have to struggle for the first 15 years of my life, but that 15 years built me up to today,” he said.

“When I went to fight these candidates to win the seat, I utilised all that determination that I gained in the first 15 years of my life and I achieve it.”

Labor’s Lim delivered one of the biggest upsets in the country by ousting Morrison’s right-hand man, Ben Morton, from the blue-ribbon seat of Tangney, in Perth’s inner southern suburbs.

Morton won the seat with a margin of 9.5 per cent in 2019 and as assistant minister to the prime minister is one of Morrison’s closest friends and confidants.

Lim, who migrated to Australia in 2002, said he could not believe the election result.

He had worn through four pairs of shoes doorknocking on the campaign trail and his voice was going, but he said he was happy to have taken the seat.

The West Australian police officer has already received congratulations from the state’s police commissioner, Chris Dawson, and said he now had a lot to learn.

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