Independent candidate for the seat of Wentworth, Allegra Spender has promised to champion the values of the LGBTQI community if she is elected at the federal election, on May 21.

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Spender, the daughter of former Liberal politician John Spender and fashion designer and businesswoman Carla Zampatti, told Star Observer that she has been “aghast at some of the recent talks about the LGBTI community in the last election cycle” and hopes to take the issues of the electorate to the nation’s capital.

Seat In Flux Since 2018

The seat of Wentworth, which includes much of the eastern suburbs and stretches as west as Oxford Street, has been in a state of flux since former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull abruptly left politics following the Liberal Party’s leadership spill in 2018. An ensuing by-election saw the seat passed to Independent Kerryn Phelps, who then lost out to the Liberal challenger and incumbent Dave Sharma at the 2019 federal election.

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Wentworth, which was once considered an extremely safe Liberal seat, is now seemingly up for grabs. Spender thinks that the “unsettledness” can be traced back to Canberra, where she believes the “values of Wentworth are not being reflected.”

“I think some things like the Religious Discrimination Bill are not really representative of the values of Wentworth, or the religious communities of Wentworth … so I think those things mean that people in Wentworth don’t feel represented,” Spender said.

‘Willing to Reflect the Community in How I Vote’

“I’m willing to listen to the community and I’m willing to reflect the community in how I vote.” When asked if she thought Sharma held the electorate’s values, Spender responded with a two-pronged answer: yes in some areas, but not in others.

She cites his actions on the contentious Religious Discrimination Bill when, earlier this year, he joined Labor and crossbenchers to back amendments that would strengthen protections for gay and transgender students at religious schools. But she also points to other facets, including the environment, where “he’s not able to or be effective in driving this agenda in Parliament.”

Having lived in the Wentworth area her whole life (except for when she lived overseas), Spender calls the LGBTQI community a “really important part of Wentworth … one that I’ve grown up with and alongside, and a community that needs enormous support.”

“For me, it’s really … how we make sure the community is supported and feels that the government is reflecting their most important needs, that may be around mental health, that may be around issues in terms of equality, access to services against discrimination, so those are issues that I will be championing.”

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