While the counting is close and will take another few days, it’s still more likely than not that the woke independent Dr Kerryn Phelps will narrowly win the seat vacated in a feat of tantrum-throwing by the dumped Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Phelps made clear throughout the campaign as well as in the media this morning that her top three priorities are climate change, bringing refugee children from Nauru and ABC funding. In that, she is arguably the perfect representative for the seat – if you want to know what the main concerns of people who live in houses with average price tag of $5 million are you need not wonder any more.
Herein lies the problem with Wentworth. One of my favourite observations from my years in politics went something like that: the problem with Malcolm is that he thinks Wentworth is a microcosm of Australia (the source shall remain anonymous). Turnbull too was the perfect representative for the seat, which in turn made him a totally wrong person to be the Prime Minister of Australia. Wentworth is the great outlier of the federal parliamentary districts through a combination of wealth and demographics, which someone once described as spivs, Jews, doctors’ wives and rich hipsters. Some other seats around the country – inner city ones, like Brisbane – come close to Wentworth in its Bobo-like qualities (after David Brooks’s bourgeois bohemians) but none can quite equal it. Which, by the way, is a good thing for the rest of Australia.
Now that the people of Wentworth have spoken and expressed their preferences, it is only fair to help them realise their vision of kinder, more compassionate and sustainable Australia. Their position at the apex of our country’s socio-economic pyramid in fact gives them the prefect opportunity to be the leaders, to show by their example the future of Australia.
Firstly, let’s not just bring refugee applicant children from Nauru to Australia, let’s bring all refugee claimants, regardless of their age. Our successive governments have condemned thousands of people from Asia and the Middle East to the cruel fate of living in Nauru among the people of Nauru. No one deserves that (except the people of Nauru). It’s time to bring them all home, or their new home. There is not a lot of vacant real estate around Wentworth at the moment, but perhaps a temporary accommodation can be set up in a number of open spaces. If the Royal Sydney and Woollahra Golf Courses are too much of an ask to cut down on the number of holes to house the refugees, there are many public parks (Vaucluse National Park, Dudley Page Reserve, Waverley Park, etc.) where such accommodation could be set up. Alternatively, the good people of Wentworth can open their homes (or second homes) and make their spare bedrooms available. The refugee children, of course, need to adjust themselves to life in Australia and there is no better way than through education, with Scots Prep, Scots College, Rose Bay Secondary College, Bondi and Bellevue Hill Public Schools and so on welcoming the children into their school communities, perhaps on special scholarships in cases of private institutions.
Secondly, it is time to make Wentworth truly clean and green. The coastal situation of the seat provides an unparalleled opportunity to take advantage of those sea breezes and winds and install off-shore batteries of wind turbines off Bondi Beach, and in fact all along the Pacific-facing shore from North Bondi to Lady Bay and South Head, with additional wind farms positioned just off Point Piper and Darling Point. In fact, there is a large stretch of water between Clark and Shark Islands with but one ferry route cutting diagonally through it, which would ensure that no boats accidentally run into any of the turbines. In addition, the above mentioned national and public parks could be used to erect more wind turbines. After all, unlike solar farms, wind turbines being vertical have a very small footprint and so would hardly take any space, leaving most of the area of these parks and reserves open to the continuing enjoyment of local residents as well as the refugees housed on the grounds or nearby. Wind power technology is safe and clean and of course produces clean renewable energy, so I can’t see any objections that the people of Dover Heights and Bellevue Hill could conceivably have, particularly since the cost of energy is not an issue (if you’re worried about that trifle, you have to ask yourself if you can really afford that million plus mortgage).
Prime Minister Morrison, I call on you to make it happen for the voters of Wentworth. It is often said that the voters are increasingly being ignored. Here is your chance to prove once and for all that this government listens and delivers on their wishes.