Arriving at the polling booth to cast my vote in the Wentworth by election on Saturday, it felt good to firmly decline the Liberal supporters handing out promo material for Dave Sharma. It felt even better to vote one for Independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps, and by doing so, to push back against pathetic and ego-centric in-fighting from Liberal party politicians who have lost sight of what it means to be running a country.
It felt galvanising to give rise to a female political candidate who stands for the issues that most Australians are similarly concerned about – issues such as climate change and removing the children from Nauru. Most of all, it felt overwhelmingly satisfying to be able to send a clear message to the Morrison Government: We. Are. Fed. Up.
It turns out I wasn’t alone. In a triumphant, historic victory, Wentworth voters abandoned the Liberals in droves, savagely rejecting the party and toppling its ownership of the Wentworth electorate for the first time since Federation. The support for Dr Phelps was so resounding that election commentators called the results just hours after the polls closed, and while the postal votes are yet to be counted, the government’s chances of clawing back a victory are remote.
Phelps characterised her win as a great moment for Australian democracy, because it would “signal a return of decency, integrity and humanity to the Australian government”. She was right. As a nation, we are disgusted by the constant revolving door of alleged “leaders” running this country, patriarchal dinosaurs who assassinated former PM Malcolm Turnbull, who refused to show support for foreign minister Julie Bishop despite her public popularity, who stand by as female politicians like Sarah Hanson Young and Emma Husar are subjected to sexist and demeaning commentary in a ugly spectacle of disrespect.
We are disappointed by their inability to act with decency and honour humanitarian principles and tired of their continued lurch to the archaic right. We are sickened by their refusal to do anything about the shocking physical and mental state of the children on Nauru, to acknowledge that climate change is a terrifying issue that needs to be taken extremely seriously. And we’re bored of the constant back stabbing, scheming and internal power plays coming at the cost of policy and detracting from the task of running the country and addressing the real problems we are facing.
Collectively, the Wentworth electorate gathered up all that disillusionment to the polls and threw it in the smug face of the Liberal party. And in a reminder of the power of a democracy, it created an impact — one that they might not recover from. As Prime Minster Scott Morrison and the Liberals now face the reality of being forced into a minority government, Dr Phelps’ stunning win has inspired other respected and intelligent females to throw their hat into the political ring.
Writer and media commentator Jane Caro is seriously considering contesting Tony Abbott for the traditionally safe Liberal seat of Warringah at the next election, saying it is “her duty”. Buoyed by Dr Phelps’ victory on Saturday night, Caro said she would also run as an independent. “I may not win. Not the point. I feel duty bound to do what I can to stop the climate deniers & the far right destroy my grandchildren’s future. If I could help I ought to at least try,” Caro tweeted.
She was flooded with messages of support from the public, people like myself, who are tired of the spineless and incompetent politicians who are intent on destroying the joint.
Finally, we're getting a chance to make our opinions heard. Hear us roar.