On Thursday, mid-way through the Wentworth byelection, the Liberal Party was forced to distance itself from a smear campaign against Phelps, after an anonymous email was sent to hundreds of Wentworth voters, falsely alleging she had been diagnosed with HIV and had pulled out of the Wentworth by-election urging them to vote for Sharma instead.
Dr Kerryn Phelps is a health & civil rights Advocate, Kerryn was the first woman and LGBTIQ person to elected president of the Australian Medical Association. A high-profile campaigner for same-sex marriage for many years she was also involved in the “yes” campaign, during the postal survey in 2017. A Member of the Order of Australia in 2011, she is also author, mother of three and was previously the Deputy Lord Mayor of the Council of the City of Sydney. Dr Phelps is now on the way to become the first openly “gay” (lesbian) member to sit in the House of Representatives.
As of Sunday evening, Phelps was more than 1600 votes ahead, ABC’s election analyst Antony Green, says the independent candidate Kerryn Phelps is on track to win the seat of Wentworth, which has never been won by the ALP before. Should the Liberals lose the seat, the Morrison government will also have lost its one-seat majority in the House of Representatives. Malcolm Turnbull further angered some Liberals by declining to sign a letter to constituents endorsing Sharma. He ended his extended holiday in New York this week, flying to Singapore to visit his son Alex, who has been active on social media since his father’s demise, advocating first Labor candidate Tim Murray and then endorsing Kerryn Phelps.
There were also robocalls from former foreign minister Bishop and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who is Jewish and who also made in-person appeals in the electorate. Phelps, Sharma, Morrison and Murray were among those who condemned the email, all saying they did not believe it had come from the Liberal Party. Morrison said he would be horrified if it had. “That is the ugly side of Australian politics and it has no place in any such contest,” he said. It was a bad week in politics, but for a prime minister with a growing list of policy inconsistencies to explain, the week after Wentworth is not looking like being much better.
Just.equal spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said Kerryn will bring “compassion, common sense and a spirit of cooperation to a polarised parliament.” “Kerryn’s election shows Australians want solutions not in-fighting, [and] progress not dogma,” he said. “We look forward to Kerryn working with other MPs to foster inclusion and equality for the LGBTI community and bring to an end the sexuality and gender culture wars that have afflicted LGBTI Australians in recent years.”