Primo Smallgoods founder and AFR Rich Lister Paul Lederer, who lives in Point Piper, has no qualms about who he will vote for in the Wentworth byelection.
“To me the economy is the No.1, No.2 and No.3 issue, and that means the Liberals plain and simple,” Mr Lederer told AFR Weekend.
“There is always the threat of a protest vote from those who are tired and unhappy, but voting for [independent Kerryn Phelps] would be a disaster for Australia, not just Wentworth, because there would be a hung parliament.”
Mr Lederer, who said the Liberals’ decision to consider moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem was an issue that was “neither here nor there”, isn’t alone in focusing on the economy, or his conviction that the Liberals are the party to back.
Seven’s Bruce McWilliam, who lives in Point Piper and is a friend of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, said he already had voted for Dave Sharma as he would be in Perth on polling day.
The economy isn’t the only issue that is driving votes in Wentworth, which is being contested by independent candidate Kerryn Phelps, Labor candidate Tim Murray, and Mr Sharma, and is home to some of the country’s most successful businessman, including Frank Lowy, Harry Triguboff, and Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar.
Former Howard government adviser and one-time Telstra director Geoff Cousins isn’t sure yet how he will vote. But he is certain of one thing: he will be putting Liberal candidate David Sharma last.
“I think it is a referendum on climate change,” he told AFR Weekend. “People ought to vote one for the candidate with the best policy on climate change, 2-15 with any candidates who might have any policy on climate change and 16 for Dave Sharma. Because he, like the government, has no policy and yet is saying the government is doing enough. I think anyone who cares about that issue should put him last.”
Mr Cousins said as some of the candidates were still refining their climate change policies he remained undecided who he would put first.
Skye Leckie, who hosted a fundraiser in September for Scott Morrison and Mr Sharma and will be at the Double Bay Public School polling booth on Saturday, said it would be damaging for Australia if the Liberals lost Wentworth.
“All the candidates are very well respected, I respect all of them,” she said. “In my opinion, anything other than a vote for Dave Sharma is a vote for Bill Shorten.”
Bell Potter’s Richard Coppelson, who lives in Bellevue Hill, wrote to subscribers this week that so many “traditional Liberal votes” have said they won’t vote Liberal and the party needs to be “taught a lesson” and they plan to vote independent or leave the voting form blank. He told AFR Weekend he would be voting for the Liberals.
“I don’t want to bring down the government. I’m going to vote Liberal because we have a hung parliament and the last thing we need is more instability,” he said.
He added that it would be interesting to see if traditional Liberal voters followed through on their threat to vote against the party once they were in the ballot box.
Another vocal resident is Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, who declined to comment but has been posting regularly on Twitter about issues around the Wentworth byelection, including climate change, immigration and the “it’s OK to be white” motion.
“Regardless about how you feel on the issue (I hope you would have voted “No” if you were a senator)…you can’t make up what a colossally bad move this was…” he wrote to accompany a retweet from Simon Holmes a Court about the Coalition senators who backed the One Nation motion stipulating “it’s OK to be white” , and the subsequent decision to move the Australian embassy to Jerusalem, widely regarded as a move to appease Wentworth’s 13 per cent Jewish electorate and help get Mr Sharma over the line.
Caledonia Investments co-chief investment officer Will Vicars also declined to comment about how he plans to vote this Saturday but has previously said “a change of government will be horrendous for property”.
Greg Kelly, who has been running the Perons cafe in Double Bay for 36 years and lives in the seat, said the electorate was not bluffing when it came to voting for Kerryn Phelps.
“There is a great deal of concern that Wentworth will go and vote for Kerryn Phelps and it’s not that she isn’t a good candidate, it’s just that she doesn’t support the government,” he said.
DLA Piper partner Les Koltai said the Liberals’ decision to consider moving the embassy showed that the government had “the courage of its convictions”.
But the big issue is influence. “I am a lifer in the Wentworth seat and what is really important for us is that we have an effective voice representing us. We always have had that – we are used to cabinet ministers, we had Malcolm Turnbull,” he said.