Election 2019: Kerryn Phelps to concede defeat in Wentworth to Dave Sharma


The high-profile independent member for the Sydney seat of Wentworth, Kerryn Phelps, is planning to concede defeat following Saturday’s federal election.

Key points:

  • Liberal candidate Dave Sharma is leading the count in Wentworth by almost 2,000 votes
  • Independent Kerryn Phelps was elected in a by-election last year
  • New Independent member for Warringah Zali Steggall said Dr Phelps had made a “phenomenal” contribution

The ABC’s election computer has predicted the Liberals’ Dave Sharma will retake Malcolm Turnbull’s old seat, after Dr Phelps won it at a by-election last October.

Nearly 75 per cent of the ballots have been counted, and Mr Sharma leads by almost 2,000 votes.

A spokesman for Dr Phelps said she was “not disputing” the result and would make a statement at 12:00pm.

Mr Sharma will speak at 2:00pm.

Dr Phelps won booths around Bondi Beach and Darlinghurst, but Mr Sharma outpolled her in the electorate’s most affluent suburbs like Double Bay and Vaucluse.

Dr Phelps’s by-election win last year was the first time the seat in Sydney’s affluent eastern suburbs and not been won by the Liberals, or its predecessors, since federation.

At the by-election, which was sparked when Mr Turnbull was ousted as prime minister, voters punished the Liberal Party and Mr Sharma suffered a swing of almost 20 per cent against him.

Both he and Dr Phelps increased their primary vote this time around.

Mr Sharma gained 47.7 per cent of the vote, while Dr Phelps recorded 32.9 per cent.

Mr Sharma, a former ambassador to Israel, said during the campaign that anger over Mr Turnbull’s knifing had subsided and people in Wentworth were focused on choosing the government.

The vote was expected to be tight, however Liberal Party insiders were confident the mood had shifted in the blue-ribbon seat.

Campaigning ahead of the federal election was particularly dirty, however.


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Dr Phelps was targeted with several abusive emails — some included anti-Semitic remarks and claimed she was ineligible to stand, while others were homophobic and named her children.

Dr Phelps — a former head of the Australian Medical Association — campaigned on climate change and vowed to stop the Adani coal mine as well as other new coal projects.

She said she felt confident people would support her again as there was still discontent toward major parties.

The new independent member for Warringah, Zali Steggall, said she was sad and “disappointed” about the result in Wentworth.

“She’s been a great Member for Wentworth,” Ms Steggall said.

“She’s made a phenomenal contribution to Australia at large and I think she is very hard working and very good.”

But Ms Steggall said she had met Mr Sharma as well and described him as “moderate” and “reasonable”.

“I am sure that our views probably align even on a number of issues,” she said.

Ms Steggall and Dr Phelps campaigned together at times as part of the “independents day” movement formed before the election.