The Liberal Party has reclaimed its blue-ribbon seat of Wentworth, with independent MP Dr. Kerryn Phelps conceding to Liberal candidate Dave Sharma.
The race for the high profile Sydney seat had been neck and neck since Saturday night but Sharma officially claimed the win on Monday afternoon after outgoing independent MP Kerryn Phelps conceded.
Sharma, a former ambassador to Israel, described the result as “very satisfying” after he lost to Phelps in the October 2018 by-election called after ex-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull quit.
“It’s been a long continuous campaign for seven months for me,” he told reporters in Sydney.
Thanks. I think the people of Wentworth deserve a positive and forward-looking campaign. 👍🏼 https://t.co/XrMqE59tPV
— Dave Sharma (@DaveSharma) May 15, 2019
Best wishes to all the candidates standing for election today, in Wentworth and elsewhere! 🗳 The strength of Australian democracy depends on people being prepared to put themselves and their ideas forward 💪💡✅ #auspol #Election2019 pic.twitter.com/UEl0Bumsr6
— Dave Sharma (@DaveSharma) May 17, 2019
Sharma said there was a lot of “anger and protest” during the by-election when Wentworth was flooded with activists from the progressive lobby group GetUp.
Wentworth liberal candidate Dave Sharma swamped with climate change protesters from @GetUp. He appeared briefly at Rose Bay public but can’t vote because he’s only just moved to the electorate. Kerryn Phelps is outside the boundary and can’t vote either @SBSNews #auspol pic.twitter.com/sRY5kV3Evz
— Omar Dabbagh (@Omar_Dabbagh) October 19, 2018
But this election, GetUp volunteers were absent from Wentworth on polling day, instead focusing on Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah, according to The Australian.
With 77 per cent of the ballots counted, Sharma had 51.7 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis to Phelps’s 48.3 per cent.
The newly-minted MP doesn’t expect a ministerial role in the new Morrison government but instead plans to focus on delivering for the people of Wentworth.
He thanked the progressive Phelps for her seven-month contribution in Canberra.
Phelps was flanked by a group of “purple army” campaign volunteers when she conceded defeat and thanked her wife and family for supporting her.
Hey @drkerrynphelps, the police are still looking for the person who broke in to my campaign van this morning. She seems to be one of your campaign staff. Can you help with the investigation? https://t.co/giJgFoaw9Z pic.twitter.com/eZME8toxpg
— Dave Sharma (@DaveSharma) May 17, 2019
“There’s no way I could have done anything I did in parliament or for the electorate without their undying support,” she told reporters in Sydney.
During her time in federal parliament, Phelps fought to get asylum seekers off Manus Island and Nauru, and also advocated for stronger action for reducing carbon emissions.
“I operated in Canberra with conviction, with integrity and a belief that individuals can impact on the political conversation,” she said.
“The one thing the past seven months have shown is that one voice can make a difference.”
Phelps described her by-election win as “almost a miracle” and insisted there was still an appetite for independent thinking in Wentworth.
The 61-year-old attributed her loss to the fact that Wentworth voters “didn’t want a Labor government.”
“Clearly the country decided it wanted to return a Liberal government and I suspect that had something to do with it,” she said.
Phelps wouldn’t be drawn on her future in politics instead saying she would now focus on catching up with family and friends.
She kept her place on Sydney City Council after winning the by-election and has also continued working at her Double Bay GP practice.
She congratulated Sharma on his win as did Turnbull who held the seat for 14 years.
Congratulations @DaveSharma on winning Wentworth – the best part of the best country in the world! Good luck in the years ahead. And thank you @drkerrynphelps for the great courage and character you showed as our MP.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) May 20, 2019
“Congratulations Dave Sharma on winning Wentworth – the best part of the best country in the world! Good luck in the years ahead. And thank you Kerryn Phelps for the great courage and character you showed as our MP,” the former prime minister tweeted.
By Dominica Sanda. With additional reporting by Epoch Times staff.