The day when Wentworth went independent

The federal Division of Wentworth (Wentworth) is the second smallest electoral division in the Australian Parliament, and is situated in New South Wales (NSW). It was proclaimed in 1900 and was one of the original 65 divisions contested at the first federal election.

Wentworth was named after William Charles Wentworth, an Australian statesman and explorer. Until today the seat of Wentworth has been held by a conservative male politician.

The Liberal Party of Australia has held the seat since 1944. The Australian Labor Party has never held the seat. The former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held the seat from 2004 to 2018.

In August 2018 Mr Turnbull resigned from the seat within a week or so of being ‘supplanted’. His Prime Ministership was in effect terminated prematurely due to ‘instability from within the federal Liberal party’. It happened more or less like this –

Mr Turnbull, who was the 29th Australian Prime Minister, declared the position of Prime Minister vacant, after Peter Dutton challenged him unsuccessfully only days before the vote for a new Prime Minister. Three candidates put themselves forward –

  • Julie Bishop, the Member for Curtin (WA) since 1998,
  • Peter Dutton, the Member for Dickson (QLD) since 2001, and
  • Scott Morrison the member for Cook (NSW) since 2007.

Scott Morrison was successful, and became Australia’s 30th Prime Minister.

The chain reaction continued. The Liberal government only had a one seat majority. There would need to be a by-election for the seat of #Wentworth.

Dave Sharma in Double Bay graciously conceding defeat.

There were sixteen candidates. Dave Sharma, a former Ambassador to Isreal (amongst other things) was pre-selected as the Liberal candidate. The ALP candidate was Tim Murray. The Greens’ candidate was Dominic Wy Kanak.

High profile GP Prof Kerryn Phelps stood as an independent, and at 8.18pm, ABC’s Antony Green declared that Kerryn had won the seat. Here is what she says about herself on her LinkedIn profile. She is certainly a high achiever, as was Dave Sharma.

Professor Kerryn Phelps AM is a general practitioner in Sydney with an interest in integrative medicine, health policy, and medical journalism. She has owned and operated several successful medical clinics.

Prof Phelps is a pioneer in health communication in Australia, appearing regularly on television, radio and in the print media for thirty years, informing the public on health issues and as an advocate for the Australian health system and for social justice issues.

She has been the health columnist for the Australian Womens Weekly since 1991.

She was the first woman to be elected as President of the Australian Medical Association. She is also a past president of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association.

She is a passionate advocate for human rights, and was a leader of the marriage equality movement in Australia.

Professor Phelps has written several books including a textbook “General Practice: The Integrative Approach”. “Ultimate Wellness” was published in 2013, “The Cancer Recovery Guide” (with foreword by HRH Price Charles) in 2015 and The Mystery Gut in 2017.

Kerryn and her wife Jackie Stricker-Phelps have a long commitment to child protection and they are ambassadors for Barnardos Australia.

She has three children, Jaime Chambers, Carl Fronzek and Gabi Stricker-Phelps.

She was awarded an Order of Australia for services to medicine, particularly through leadership roles with the AMA, to education and community health.

In 2013 Prof Phelps was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Western Sydney University.

Prof Phelps was elected to City of Sydney Council in 2016 and was Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney 2016-2017. She continues to serve as an independent councillor.

When a by-election was called on the removal of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from office, Prof Phelps announced her candidacy for the seat of Wentworth in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Wentworth covers an area from Elizabeth Bay along the southern shore of Sydney Harbour to Watsons Bay and down the coast to Clovelly. The western boundary runs along the eastern border of Potts Point and Darlinghurst to Oxford Street, Flinders Street, South Dowling Street and Dacey Avenue. The southern boundary follows Alison Road, King Street, Wentworth Street, Stanley Street, Avoca Street, Frenchmans Road, Clovelly Road, Walker Avenue and Bundock Park.

The main suburbs include Bellevue Hill, Bondi, Clovelly (part), Darlinghurst (part), Darling Point, Dover Heights, Elizabeth Bay, Moore Park, Paddington, Point Piper, Rose Bay, Vaucluse, Watsons Bay and Waverley.