FORMER Wentworth MP Kerryn Phelps says her time in Canberra “really did reinforce my belief that I want to continue to be engaged in community service”.
The Jewish GP and councillor has announced her candidacy for Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney at the NSW Local Government Elections on September 4.
“I think that it’s time for change at the City of Sydney and I really look forward to that challenge,” the former Australian Medical Association president told The AJN.
Phelps said her intention upon joining the City of Sydney Council in 2016 was to learn the ropes and then run for the top job.
Calling her stint in federal politics an “incredible experience and privilege”, she said, “I talked in my maiden speech in Wentworth about the human experience in politics, that we need to be thinking about how our decisions impact on the human experience.
“The same goes very much so with local government. Because what local government does has a very immediate impact on people’s quality of life.”
If elected, she said she will push for more community engagement.
“One of the common complaints that I receive is people are told something’s happening and before they know it, it’s just imposed on them … communities really need to have much more genuine input,” she said.
“The second thing is looking at governance. Whether you’re chairman of a board or in political office I think that there needs to be a time limit.”
Calling the city’s economy “one of the engine rooms of the Australian economy”, she said it was also important for its lord mayor to “speak the language of business”, including helping the night-time economy thrive post-COVID.
Noting that businesses in the city have two votes, Phelps urged those who have business interests within the Council boundary to “check your registration and register to vote, and that you support a lord mayor who understands business”.
Addressing the pandemic, she said it needs to be approached in three phases – maintaining careful public health measures in the short term, giving businesses confidence in the medium term, and then looking at longer-term effects on the way people are living and working in the city.
“One of the important things going forward with the Council is to have a leader who understands public health, because COVID is going to be with us for some time,” she said.
She added, “We need to be looking at the way that we plan the city too, because there are a lot of apartment blocks going up and a great increase in density, but without thinking through the infrastructure needs first … things like transport and green space.”