PHELPS EYES TURN­BULL’S SEAT

The Sunday Times - - News - SHARRI MARKSON

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”.

Pic­ture: Sam Rut­tyn

Doc­tor in the house: Ker­ryn Phelps, cen­tre, with part­ner Jackie Stricker-Phelps and daugh­ter Gabrielle.

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