A high-profile independent running for Wentworth’s federal Sydney seat says the prime minister’s performance at the recent climate conference in Glasgow motivated her to take part in the race.
- Wentworth’s seat is currently held by Liberal MP Dave Sharma with a margin of 1.3 per cent.
- Ms Spender says her campaign will focus on climate change, integrity and the economy
- She is the daughter of the late fashion designer Carla Zampatti and former Liberal MP John Spender
Businesswoman and proponent of renewable energy Allegra Spender, daughter of the late fashion designer Carla Zampatti and former Liberal MP John Spender, will run as an independent for the blue ribbon in eastern suburbs at next year’s election.
The seat is currently held by Liberal MP Dave Sharma with a margin of 1.3 per cent. The former ambassador to Israel regained the seat of the party in 2019 after defeating the independent Kerryn Phelps.
In 2018, Dr. Phelps’ seat in a by-election triggered by the resignation of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Ms Spender, who is currently CEO of the Australian Business Community Network, decided to run after what she said was the federal government’s failure to address climate change.
“I decided to be about climate, integrity and economy,” she said.
“We are not doing enough on the climate, and it is having a huge impact on our economy and our environmental future.”
In recent years, the 43-year-old has channeled his passion for climate action into his role as chairman of the Sydney Renewable Power Company, where the focus is on providing people with “practical solutions to environmental challenges”.
But the turning point for her to enter the political domain came when she saw Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the world stage.
“It was really watching COP26 and just realizing that Scott Morrison and the team would never get there,” she said.
“It is the next 10 years that will really make a difference, both for the economy but also for the climate.
“It was really clear at COP26 that Australia was an absolute laggard in terms of what we signed – and we need to move faster.”
Blue ribbon background
Mrs Spender said that although her father was a former Liberal Member of Parliament for the federal seat in North Sydney, he supported her independent candidacy.
“My father was a Liberal MP, but he is 100 percent behind me,” she said.
Her family’s ties to the party go back to her grandfather, who was a Liberal MP for Warringah, but who had originally stood as independent in 1937 over his objection to the defense policies of the then governments.
“We are a family of liberals, but we have also been people who have said, ‘We know what we stand for,’ and you have to stand up for that, and that is really my background.”
Mrs Spender sees herself as a “typically frustrated Wentworth voter” – who voted for Dr. Phelps at the last election and Mr Turnbull before that – with a unique opportunity to make a difference.
“Wentworth has shown that it is willing to choose an independent when it chose Kerryn Phelps, and that is a very marginal place,” she said.
“I think the frustration of the people I talk to in Wentworth is real – and it’s about climate, and it’s about economics, and it’s about trusting our politicians.
“I am convinced that business and the environment can work together.”