Member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps has backed independent candidate for Warringah Zali Steggall, after the former Olympian and barrister announced on Saturday that she would challenge Tony Abbott in the upcoming federal election.
Ms Phelps, also an independent, told ABC News that Warringah would be a “very similar story to the by-election in Wentworth”, where she came out ahead of Liberal candidate Dave Sharma – the first time since 1901 that the seat had not been held by the Liberal party.
Warringah has similarly voted conservative since 1922, with the former prime minister holding the seat since 1994.
“If anyone has been watching the commentary on Warringah over recent years, it has been very obvious that the mood in Warringah has changed and there has been a shift towards more progressive social policies,” Dr Phelps said.
“And that’s not being reflected in their current representation.”
In an opinion article for the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Phelps said the seats of Wentworth and Warringah “are neighbours without a land border”.
“Like me, she [Zali Steggall] represents the sensible centre, the large part of the electorate that feels completely betrayed and abandoned by the current Liberal Party,” she wrote.
“Manly has a history of having great independents, so Zali will come in a line of amazing people who have worked their guts out to keep this area clean and green,” said one attendee.
James Mathison, a former host of Australian Idol and a 2016 candidate in Warringah, said voter disillusionment with Mr Abbott had only grown.
“I am pretty certain we’ll see what happened in Wentworth happen here,” he said.
“I think there has been a rise in Independents because people are looking for authentic voices,” Dr Phelps said on Monday morning.
“More and more people are being able to see that members of parties are bound by party positions, and those positions may not represent their electorate, may not represent their views.”