It was a seat that had all eyes on it in October last year after former PM Malcolm Turnbull called time on his political career after his ousting by the Liberal Party. And it’s a seat that will again draw a lot of interest on Sunday night.
• This election will largely be a rerun of that byelection with the main characters lining up for another go. Covering many of the wealthiest parts of Sydney, the Eastern Suburbs seat was a jewel in the Liberal crown, until late last year…
• Independent Dr Kerryn Phelps won the seat in last year’s by-election and holds it by a margin of 1.22%. She’s a former AMA President and enjoyed a high media profile as a medico. In her short time in parliament, she aligned herself with other independents but supported the government when it came to confidence votes.
• Her main opponent is the Liberals’ Dave Sharma. He’s a former ambassador to Israel and had to fight off a Melbourne Cup field of Liberal hopefuls to become the candidate to contest the by-election. One issue in his campaign last year was the absence of a clear endorsement from the former member, Malcolm Turnbull.
• Phelps’ campaign was well funded last year, and there are questions about whether she’s received the same level of support this time – a big ask for an independent fighting two campaigns in a matter of months. Meanwhile, Sharma has also spent the time campaigning and lobbying for support.
• The Wentworth byelection had a voter turnout of 78% – low by Australia’s measures. Some pundits say many Liberal voters were too angry about the dumping of Turnbull to vote at all. And they postulate that much of that anger has dissipated and they will come out in support of Sharma this time – which would probably get him over the line.
It’s definitely one to watch.