Still wondering who to vote for? Read what our local candidates stand for here
Ahead of the May 18 election, Local East asked our key candidates to share their views on the issues affecting the people of this electorate. Here are their answers.
Tim Murray, Australian Labor Party
I will take real action on climate change. Labor aims to have 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and reduce carbon emissions by 45 per cent.
What can we do in Wentworth to achieve this goal? I knows that it’s difficult for apartment buildings to install rooftop solar panels. In Wentworth, approximately 61% of our dwellings are apartments.
This is why I have worked to establish the local non-partisan community group, the "‘Wentworth Solar Station’ which is working on solutions and partnering options to help renters, landlords and owner-occupiers enjoy affordable and clean solar power.
I am committed to constitutional recognition of Indigenous people, and an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Labor supports a Joint Parliamentary Committee to promote a return to bipartisanship on this issue after the current government rejected the aspirations in the Uluru Statement.
I support the establishment of an Indigenous Cultural Centre at South Head.
Here the Salt Water people of Sydney can tell the story of their past and present culture. The indigenous bush could be returned to its original state. Native food could be a feature of walking tours and local stories could be told to the world.
Giving our local indigenous people, the La Perouse community, a prominent place on their traditional land to educate Australians and international visitors, in Australia’s largest city, will positively impact all Indigenous Australians.
A world class facility and surrounding infrastructure, such as an upgraded wharf, could be built at South Head with the support of the Local, State and Federal Governments. Sydney’s tourism industry will benefit.
I want to help put first home buyers on a level playing field with investors by removing the negative gearing concession for existing housing stock.
Labor’s policies will increase the supply of rental properties which will keep rents low. Labor will keep the negative gearing concession for newly constructed housing, and provide incentives for Build to Rent construction projects, ensuring stable long-term rental accommodation.
Investors that have already negatively geared property will retain fully grandfathered rights.
Dave Sharma, Liberal Party
My parents used to own a small block of units on Billyard Avenue in Elizabeth Bay. As a young child I’d spend many weekends there, with with my Mum and Dad, helping with odd jobs and mowing the lawn at the back. We sold that property at the top of the last housing boom, in 1988. The property has since been converted into luxury penthouses, indicative of the changes the neighbourhood has undergone in that period.
Thirty years later, my wife Rachel and I recently bought our first property in Sydney not far away, in Paddington. Our three young daughters are going to school locally, and have already been discovering their favourite shops, cafes and parks in the area.
Most of the intervening period I have been living overseas, working and representing Australia as a diplomat — from Papua New Guinea, to Washington DC, and most recently as Australia's ambassador to Israel.
It's nice to finally be home, and we consider ourselves very lucky to be living in one of the best areas in one of the world's greatest cities.
But although the Eastern Suburbs does indeed have an enviable lifestyle, it is not without its challenges.
Congestion is one. We live in one of the most densely populated parts of Australia, and you can feel this every day. Whether you are stuck waiting for the next 333 bus with some available space, crawling along New South Head Road of a morning, or battling traffic for the school drop-off, increased congestion impacts on all of us.
Due to our density and proximity to the city, we are uniquely suited to innovative public-transport solutions. Expanded trials of on-demand bus services, new commuter bus and ferry routes, improved public transport infrastructure, and better bicycle lanes — these are all options we need to be pursuing, in concert with the state government.
The East has gone through a demographic shift in the past decade, and our community has become considerably younger. You only need to visit some of the local public primary schools, where enrolments are higher than ever, to see this. More people require more infrastructure, and the need for more public high-school places, and eventually a new public high school, is clear. As a parent of three young daughters, and a beneficiary of the public school system myself, I feel this personally and will champion it.
Our open spaces and parklands are precious and unique assets, and are central to maintaining the character and quality of life in our suburbs. We need to protect our parklands, preserve our heritage, oppose overdevelopment, and find new ways to activate old sites, such as the old White City tennis complex.
Two decades spent representing Australia abroad taught me two important lessons. First, that Australia is one of the most successful countries in the world: we are secure, prosperous, harmonious and generous of spirit. Second, that we can never afford to take this success for granted.
We are, each of us, custodians of Australia’s future, and in our own way we can each contribute to that future.
I believe that one of the first and most important duties of any federal government is to maintain a healthy economy. Because without a healthy economy we cannot provide generous social services, or build world-class schools and hospitals, or look after our disadvantaged.
But in addition to this duty, governments must also be helping us to prepare for the future. This means tackling climate change, in a responsible manner, and reducing our environmental footprint.
It means preparing our economy, and our young people, for the rapid advance of technology and the jobs of the future.
And it means dealing with contemporary social challenges that impact on our everyday lives, such as the struggles of families juggling two jobs with childcare, and the problem of housing affordability.
Dr Kerryn Phelps, Independent
It has been only six months since the Wentworth by-election but the message delivered by voters last October has not diminished: we want politics done differently.
A succession of prime ministers in the past decade, endless skirmishes in the parliament, jobs for mates and victories for vested interests connected to the major parties have left politics at a low ebb.
Every day you open a newspaper there is another scandal — dodgy water buybacks, approvals for the Adani coal mine or the Paladin affair where more than $400 million of taxpayer’s money was given to a shady company to deliver services to the offshore detention centre on Manus Island.
Very few voters feel inspired by the major parties and many are choosing to get behind independents — local MPs with integrity who stand up for their local community.
I am an independent who gets things done. I ran in the Wentworth by-election campaign explaining that I am economically conservative and socially progressive.
I believe our tax system needs to reward aspiration, that the private sector drives jobs and economic growth, and that Australians should not be subjected to the uncertainty that will be created by Labor’s planned changes to franking credits, negative gearing and capital gains tax.
But I also wanted to get #KidsOffNauru and see asylum seekers in offshore detention have access to better medical care. Both of those things have been achieved, as promised.
I strongly oppose the proposed Adani mine and the use of any public money to underwrite new coal assets or prop up ageing coal-fired power stations.
I support policies that encourage investment in renewable energy, while preparing vulnerable communities for the inevitable transition to a clean energy future.
As a former federal president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), I have extensive experience working with state and federal governments on health policy to get things done.
For example, many people said the medical indemnity crisis of the early 2000s could not be solved but I worked with Howard Government ministers of the day to find a way through.
At Sydney Children's Hospital, I believe cardiac surgery services should be restored because parents in the Eastern Suburbs would expect their children to be treated locally in a centre of excellence rather than at Westmead.
We need to end the Medicate rebate freeze and invest in general practice as the foundation of the health system.
We also need to urgently review the Federal Government’s changes to private health insurance rebates on complementary therapies because evidence exists for tai chi, yoga, Pilates, naturopathy and Western herbal medicine.
I am a strong supporter of a second high school in Wentworth.
Our primary schools have record enrolments and despite what the NSW Department of Education says, Rose Bay Secondary College is at capacity and our electorate needs more places for secondary students.
In the recent by-election campaign, the NSW Liberal Government ignored community concerns on these two issues — which tells you everything you need to know about the Liberals’ real plans.
I am on the record opposing overdevelopment in the Eastern Suburbs.
While primarily a local and state government matter, I have serious concerns over spot re-zoning, particularly where decisions are taken out of the hands of local councils by the State government, often on questionable grounds.
I have already demonstrated that I can work with parliamentarians from all parties and the crossbench, and I pledge to continue to work collaboratively to get things done — including the introduction a National Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission.
I have delivered on my promises and am immensely proud of what my team and I have achieved in just six months. Imagine what we can do together in three years.
Dominic Wy Kanak, The Greens
The Greens election platform promotes issues that the majority of people in Wentworth care about — real action on climate change, human rights for refugees, ensuring everyone has a home, promoting justice for First Peoples, ending discrimination and tackling excessive corporate power.
When I’m out and about, so many locals raise concerns about the future. Being a coastal community I think highlights the need for climate action. This is where both major parties are failing.
The Greens’ climate action plan includes a major investment in renewable energy — $1 billion for local community projects and a further $1.5 billion a year in large-scale, publicly-owned renewable energy projects.
We will also upgrade the power grid to connect with renewable energy resources and provide financial assistance for more than a million households to install solar panels and battery storage. Transitioning to a renewable economy will create thousands of jobs.
I know our plans will be welcomed by many locals who want to use clean energy. There is strong support in our community to stop the Adani coal mine and to phase out the coal industry.
The Greens are strong supporters of refugee rights. We are working to close offshore detention centres.
Housing costs are too high. Successive governments have created a system that favours the interests of big banks, property developers and the very wealthy.
The Greens policies recognise housing is a human right and our plan is to end homelessness. There are many renters in Wentworth and they should not have to live with the threat of eviction. In the next parliament we will work for secure tenancy with a cap on rents.
Our local public schools need more resources. Our plan will increase funding for all public schools, while stopping the overfunding of elite private schools.
Young people in our area are often exploited at work. Our plan is for equal pay for equal work including for those in the gig economy and labour-hire workers. A priority of the next parliament must be to tackle job insecurity by restricting casualisation.
Australia is a rich country. We can afford the Greens’ plans. We need to prevent corporate tax avoidance and make sure big corporations pay their fair share of tax.
I am currently the deputy mayor of Waverley Council and a community advocate. My indigenous first nations heritage principles guide my work to look after country and people, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
The Greens stand against discrimination and racism and value diversity in our community.
I urge that you to vote Greens in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
Our Senate candidate, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, shares my commitment to making a difference to the lives of the people of Wentworth. Mehreen is ready to continue her work with our other Greens MPs to hold a Labor or Coalition government to account.
ALP candidate Tim Murray was invited to participate in this discussion but did not respond to many emails and phone calls requesting his response.