Independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps is expected to take home the win for the seat of Wentworth this Saturday, as newly released data places her ahead of the Liberal Party’s candidate Dave Sharma.
According to Liberal Party polling, published by The Australian, the former Australian Medical Association president is currently sitting at 55 per cent on a two-party-preferred basis, compared to Sharma on 45 per cent.
The data, which was reportedly leaked to the newspaper, indicates that Saturday’s result could deliver a blow for the Morrison government in the much-anticipated by-election, despite 75 per cent of those in the seat believing the government will retain it.
This latest information suggests that Phelps is continuing to grow in popularity, as figures released earlier in the week positioned the independent less than one point ahead of Sharma. The Australian also reports that Phelps is coming in at around 20 per cent on primary votes, while Sharma sits in the mid-30s, meaning Phelps must finish second to secure the seat due to polling preferences.
These new statistics follow the controversial announcement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison regarding Israel on Tuesday, which was suspected to have been made in a bid to secure a Liberal win in Malcolm Turnbull’s former Sydney seat as, with around 20,000 Jewish voters in Wentworth, it would be a sizeable enough figure to swing the election in the Liberal’s favour.
Morrison announced he was considering moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and therefore recognising the holy city as Israel’s capital, in a move similar to the decision made by US President Donald Trump at the end of last year.
Despite fears that the move could damage the peace process with Palestine, as ownership of the holy city has long been a highly controversial issue, Morrison said the current approach to try and establish a two-state solution had failed.
“We are committed a two-state solution and nothing has changed when it comes to the government’s position on this matter, but frankly, it hasn’t been going that well,” he said at a press conference, The Guardian reported. “Not a lot of progress has been made. And you don’t keep doing the same thing and expect different solutions.”
Morrison also credited Sharma, who is a former ambassador to Israel, with raising the issue, just days before the by-election.
“When sensible suggestions are put forward that are consistent with your policy and in this case, pursuing a two-state solution, Australia should be open-minded to this and I am open-minded to this,” he added. “I’m not going to close my mind off to things that can actually be done better and differently.”