PHELPS EYES TURNBULL’S SEAT
SHE’S changed laws on gay marriage, medical indemnity and adoption all from outside Canberra.
Now, high-profile doctor Kerryn Phelps wants a seat at the political table and will today announce she’s running as an independent in the old seat of Malcolm Turnbull, pictured.
The 60-year-old former Australian Medical Association president told The Sunday Times she wanted to become the MP for Wentworth to “represent the sensible centre”.
She would not, she said, block supply, and said the possibility of forming a partnership with the Government if it lost its majority was “a long bow to draw”.
Beside her as she announced her bid for the October 20 by-election was her wife Jackie StrickerPhelps, who she wed in New York in 1998, and their daughter Gabi, who the couple fostered and later adopted.
The couple were allowed to adopt after Professor Phelps’ tireless lobbying for a law change.
It was an experience that provided an insight into the mechanics of influence and a desire to be closer to the big game.
While Liberal candidate Dave Sharma is supported by former PM John Howard, Professor Phelps does not concede she would have less influence as an independent MP.
“As in independent person, over a period of weeks I was able to achieve a full Senate inquiry into the My Health record,” she said. “If a single voice can achieve a complete review of a piece of legislation, then an independent voice within Parliament can achieve a great deal more, in some respects, than people who are tied into a party position.”
As AMA president, Professor Phelps said she had to be “fearless and bipartisan” when negotiating policy, such as medical indemnity, with then prime minister John Howard and the Labor State and Territory governments.
Asked if she would consider forming a coalition or partnership with the Federal Government, such as independent Winston Peters had done in New Zealand, if Peter Dutton was referred to the High Court and Mr Morrison lost his one-seat majority, Professor Phelps said it was “a long bow to draw”. “You don’t stand as an independent expecting to get involved in power plays,” she said.
“It’s for authentic representation of my community and the country. It’s the only reason I’m doing this. And to be a modifying influence on the extreme right-wing agenda.”
The City of Sydney councillor also said she wouldn’t block supply because, “I am not here to bring down a government”.
“I am here to bring some stability and common sense to a very volatile situation and to bring a voice of reason to the Australian Parliament,” she said.
She said her “sensible centre” concerns were “things like the future the health system, climate policy, education, a strong economy, aged care, and how we are treating asylum seekers”.
Doctor in the house: Kerryn Phelps, centre, with partner Jackie Stricker-Phelps and daughter Gabrielle.