LABOR’S Penny Sharpe has told the Star Observer she will not return to the upper house even if the strategy to win the tightly-contested and new electorate of Newtown, in Sydney’s inner west, fails at next weekend’s NSW State Election.
This is despite Sharpe’s upper house seat – which she has occupied for a decade – standing vacant.
Newtown, which ABC election analyst Antony Green has said is the state’s “newest, smallest and funkiest electorate,” was carved out of the eastern side of the Labor-held electorate of Marrickville with the addition of Chippendale and the southern portion of Surry Hills.
Notionally a Greens seat, Newtown differs from the area’s other new seat of Summer Hill – created from the western section of Marrickville – which is considered a shoo-in for Labor.
Asked why she hadn’t chosen to run in safer Summer Hill, Sharpe said Newtown was the area she wanted to represent.
“Newtown is where I’m from and I think you’ve got to walk the talk,” she said.
“It’s a gamble, but it’s a gamble worth taking as the community’s too important to me.”
The Star Observer also asked whether she would consider stepping back into her vacant upper house seat that is only half way through its eight-year term, should the gamble be unsuccessful.
“There’s no plan B for me,” Sharpe said.
“I’ll get to have a long sleep, spend more time with my kids and then think what I’ll do next.
“If I don’t win Labor will look to fill the upper house seat but that won’t be me.”
Trans* and intersex law reform, support for young LGBTI people and same-sex marriage were all priorities, the candidate said.
Sharpe dismissed criticism Labor had failed to follow through on LGBTI law reform and pointed to her work across party lines to secure wins such as the expungement of historical sex crimes and same-sex adoption.
An issue that has been focused on many minds in the electorate is the government’s giant WestConnex motorway project.
Sharpe said she was happy with Labor’s position that would see the M5 and M4 elements of WestConnex retained, but scrap the inner west tunnel connecting the two motorways, the Sydney Park junction and oppose clearways on King St.
“The idea that you can bring a tunnel to the bottom of Sydney Park, rip up half the park and move traffic onto already-congested roads is just a joke,” she said.
However, the Greens’ Leong said Newtown’s LGBTI voters couldn’t trust the ALP.
“Labor had more than a decade in government and failed to deliver so many things they are now promising in opposition,” she said.
“What they say and what they do are very different things.”
Leong said Labor’s position on WestConnex was “cynical”, while the Greens would scrap the project completely.
“Conveniently the part of WestConnex that Labor doesn’t support are those that directly impact on the communities within the new electorate of Newtown,” Leong said.
“Like the community, we support investment in world-class public transport and cycleways, not wasting billions of dollars on dirty tollways.”
NSW goes to the polls on Saturday, March 28.