A chat with Kerryn

September 25, 2018 by Henry Benjamin
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Since 1948 the blue ribbon electorate of Wentworth in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs has remained a Liberal stronghold, but the upcoming by-election  to be held next month will be hotly contested by Dr Kerryn Phelps who is standing as an independent.

Dr Kerryn Phelps

The by-election follows the resignation from parliament by the deposed Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The former president of the Australian Medical Association and currently a City of Sydney councillor Dr Kerryn Phelps took time out of her campaign to chat with J-Wire.

JW:   Labor is way back in the betting at this time, do you think have a winning chance and a vehicle voters can use to express any displeasure of Liberals’ behaviour in Canberra?

KP:  Yes, I do. Like me a lot people are shocked and angry about what happened to Malcolm Turnbull. There are in general many people who  dislike the behaviour of the major parties. A lot of people asked me if I would stand as an independent. After a long deliberation and making sure that I could have at least a chance of raising some very important issues, I decided to stand.

JW: Tell us about the issues.

KP:  The main issues to be addressed are action on climate change because neither of the major parties is announcing any action on climate change and protecting our environment. It is important to secure the future for the planet and for our children and grandchildren. We also need to protect investments and superannuation. People save all their lives for their retirement and the governments announce that the rules are going to be changed. It is unfair and makes Australians anxious about planning their funding for their retirement. I also want to see humane treatment for the asylum-seekers on Nauru and Christmas Island. Both parties have decided on off-shore processing of those who came by sea. The drownings were terrible. If people are seeking refuge and are detained by Australia we must ensure they are properly looked after and where possible settled somewhere permanently.

JW:  What happened in Double Bay last weekend when you addressed a media pack which had been expecting Prime Minister Scott Morrison to join Liberal candidate Dave Sharma?

KP:  I saw Dave Sharma but the PM didn’t turn up.  Someone the media asked me if I wanted say a few words since the media were already there and no prime minister. Later I told my children history is made by people who turn up!

JW:  You have lived so long in the area. You operate a medical practice in Wentworth…and you are City of Sydney councillor. Is it too early to get a feeling of what the voters are thinking?

KP:  I have spent this afternoon door-knocking in Paddington and Woollahra. I don’t think anyone has seen political candidates door-knocking in this area. They have just assumed that anyone who has the Liberal preselection will get in without having to work too hard for it. People have been telling me they are disillusioned at the behaviour of the major parties. They think Canberra is in a mess. They want someone who can talk some sense and that has strong economic credentials. I am economically sensible and I have run businesses. I am looking for economic policies which will improve people’s sense of security, not threaten them.  I am also socially progressive. Obviously the marriage equality debate was something I worked on for a very long time. But the humane treatment of asylum-seekers  and making sure the essential workers on low salaries are better care of are important to me. Something can be done immediately in the field of age care and that is by improving the wages and conditions for low-paid workers.

JW:  Wentworth has never been other than Liberal. If the Labor candidate gives you his preferences, could there be a nail-biting finish on October 20?

KP:  Yes it could. There are a couple of reasons why I would be preferencing Liberal above Labor. The Liberal party  was trying to make out that I was just running to advantage the Labor party. That is absolutely not true. I am not in this to create an advantage for either the major parties. I will be putting Liberal and Labor low on my ‘how to vote’ card.

JW: If you were to win, would be on the cross-bench daunting?

KP:  There others on the cross-bench and I have had brief discussions with some of them. They they work in a way which they believe makes a real difference to the political discourse. It’s only thought this new wave of independence which will create the change we need in Canberra.

JW: Are you planning to visit some synagogues to meet the congregation?

KP:  If any congregation would like to invite me to meet with them I will be there. I have met with a number of Jewish groups already. I am going to the Jewish Museum and I am going to a Board of Deputies debate. I am happy to visit any of the shules. As you know, I was married earlier this year at the Emanuel Synagogue at a special ceremony following the marriage equality vote.

JW: Jewish voters in Wentworth valued Malcolm Turnbull’s support for Israel. Are both Israel and the security of the Jewish community in Wentworth are very important to you?

KP: Support for Israel is critical. Israel has not only the right to defend itself but the people in Israel have the right to live in peace. Local security is of prime importance.

Wentworth goes to the polls on October 20,



2 Responses to “A chat with Kerryn”
  1. Michael Barnett says:

    It would be refreshing to see Wentworth represented by Kerryn Phelps, a person who respects LGBTIQ people and who also respects other people the Liberal Party treat as sub-human.

  2. Leah Cohen says:

    Be really interested to see what the Voter Choice Project study (https://www.voterchoice.com.au/wentworth/) has to say about Phelps… there’s something not quite right here.

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