Penny Sharpe

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Penny Sharpe

MLC
Penny Sharpe MLC, Nov 2012.jpg
Penny Sharpe in November 2012
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council (New South Wales)
Assumed office
8 June 2021
DeputyJohn Graham
Preceded byAdam Searle
Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council (New South Wales)
In office
2 July 2019 – 14 May 2021
LeaderJodi McKay
Preceded byWalt Secord
Succeeded byJohn Graham
Leader of the Opposition
in New South Wales

Interim
In office
25 March 2019 – 29 June 2019
PremierGladys Berejiklian
Preceded byMichael Daley
Succeeded byJodi McKay
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
in New South Wales
In office
10 November 2018 – 29 June 2019
LeaderMichael Daley
Preceded byMichael Daley
Succeeded byYasmin Catley
Party positions
Leader of the Australian Labor Party
(NSW Branch)

Interim
In office
25 March 2019 – 29 June 2019
Preceded byMichael Daley
Succeeded byJodi McKay
Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party
(NSW Branch)
In office
10 November 2018 – 25 March 2019
LeaderMichael Daley
Preceded byMichael Daley
Succeeded byYasmin Catley
Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council
Assumed office
6 May 2015
In office
11 October 2005 – 5 March 2015
Preceded byCarmel Tebbutt
Councillor of Marrickville Council
for West Ward
In office
23 March 2004 – 13 September 2008
Personal details
Born (1970-10-22) 22 October 1970 (age 50)
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
NationalityAustralian
Political partyLabor
Spouse(s)Jo Tilly
Children3
Alma materUniversity of New South Wales
Websitewww.pennysharpe.com

Penelope Gail Sharpe (born 22 October 1970) is an Australian politician. She has served as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council since 2005, representing the Labor Party. Since June 2021, Sharpe is the leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council.

In the Labor Party leadership contest in November 2018, Sharpe was elected Deputy Leader under Michael Daley. After Daley's resignation in the aftermath of the March 2019 state election, Sharpe became interim Leader, serving until the June leadership election, which she did not contest. She was succeeded as leader by Jodi McKay and as deputy leader by Yasmin Catley.[1][2]

Sharpe was briefly absent from the Legislative Council in 2015 when she resigned to contest the Legislative Assembly seat of Newtown at the 2015 state election. Newtown was a new seat partially replacing Carmel Tebbutt's abolished seat of Marrickville, which had been left open by Tebbutt's retirement. Sharpe was defeated in Newtown by Greens candidate Jenny Leong, and was subsequently re-appointed to the Legislative Council to fill her own vacancy.

Sharpe, a mother of three, was the first open lesbian to serve in the New South Wales parliament.[3] Sharpe is aligned with the Labor Left faction.[4]

Early life[edit]

Sharpe was born in Canberra, but later moved to Sydney. She studied food technology at the University of New South Wales,[5] where she became involved in student politics.[6] She was elected president of the University of New South Wales Student Guild in 1993, the same year that she met her long-term partner, Jo Tilly.[7] Sharpe rose to national prominence the following year when she became president of the National Union of Students. As president, she was involved in a national campaign against the Keating Labor government's higher education reforms, as well as in the partially successful Victorian battle against attempts by its Liberal government to introduce voluntary student unionism there.[citation needed]

Sharpe was a co editor of Party Girls: Labor Women, a book about the role of women in politics.[8] She was a Marrickville Council councillor from 2004 to 2008.[9] At the March 2004 local government elections, Sharpe was elected as a Councillor for West Ward of Marrickville Council, serving a single term until September 2008.[10]

Political career[edit]

Member of the Legislative Council (2005–2015)[edit]

Sharpe's official appointment to the Legislative Council was announced in late September 2005, which immediately caused substantial media attention due to her status as a lesbian mother—particularly as she would now be sitting alongside the likes of conservative Liberal David Clarke and Christian Democratic Party firebrand Fred Nile.[11] She largely refused to comment on her private life in the subsequent fracas, but announced her policy goals as improving access to education and eliminating discrimination against gay parents. She has also made clear her intention to confront Clarke and Nile on gay rights issues; a stance that was heavily reflected in her maiden speech to parliament.[12]

2015 state election[edit]

In March 2015, Sharpe resigned from the Legislative Council to contest the lower house seat of Newtown at the 2015 state election. She was unsuccessful, with Jenny Leong of the Greens winning the seat, and subsequently announced her intention to contest preselection to be re-appointed to the vacancy caused by her own resignation.[13]

Member of the Legislative Council (2015–present)[edit]

Sharpe played an instrumental role in achieving marriage equality for LGBTI Australians.[14] She was a leading figure in the internal Labor Party push to shift the ALP's position to one of supporting marriage equality. As a member of the NSW Legislative Council, she moved motions and put state-based bills to the NSW Parliament.[15] Sharpe was active in the ultimate Australian Marriage Law Survey and subsequent parliamentary reform process, campaigning publicly and has been noted as a key supporter and adviser to the likes of Campaign Director, Tim Gartrell and Labor Senate Leader, Senator Penny Wong. Senator Wong has said of the achievement of marriage equality in Australia that "change happened because of champions like Penny Sharpe, who has worked to build momentum for change in our party."[16]

In 2018, Sharpe successfully led a cross-party process to amend the Public Health Act to legislate for 'safe-access zones', making the practice of harassing women entering clinics and hospitals providing terminations illegal. Some commentary noted that this was the first time a Bill introduced by a Labor MP had successfully passed the NSW Parliament since the ALP had lost government seven years earlier.[17]

After the resignation of NSW Labor leader Luke Foley over sexual assault allegations, and the election of Michael Daley as his successor, Sharpe was unanimously elected Deputy Leader of the party on 10 November 2018.[18], despite being a member of the upper house and was not a candidate for the lower house in the 2019 election. As Deputy Opposition Leader, Sharpe was the alternative Deputy Premier and the Deputy Premier has conventionally been a member of the lower house. In addition to carrying out her duties as Deputy Leader, Sharpe campaigned strongly on environmental issues during the 2019 New South Wales state election. She talked of building on the environmental reforms of the Wran and Carr governments, claiming, when she launched Labor's environment policy manifesto, that "NSW doesn't have another four years to waste to take real action on climate change and to arrest the biodiversity crisis in the state".[19]

After Labor's defeat in the election, Daley announced his resignation. Sharpe succeeded him as interim leader. The leadership vote was scheduled for after the 2019 federal election so as not to conflict with Labor's federal campaign. It was ultimately held in June, with Jodi McKay defeating Chris Minns to win the leadership. Sharpe was set to recontest the deputy leadership, challenged by McKay's ally Yasmin Catley, but agreed to step aside and was appointed deputy leader in the Legislative Council. She was given the portfolios of Shadow Minister for Family & Community Services and Shadow Minister for Disability Inclusion in the McKay shadow cabinet.[2][20]

Sharpe resigned from her portfolios on 14 May 2021 over disagreements with the party's position on the Mandatory Disease Testing Bill.[21] The bill would require blood testing of people who might have posed a risk of bodily fluid contact with frontline workers, such as first responders who have been spat on or scratched. According to Sharpe, the bill would represent "a major departure from a scientific and medical approach to managing the communicable risk of HIV or hepatitis". Sharpe abstained from voting before her resignation, which she claimed was not related to McKay's leadership. McKay would later be forced to resign as party leader two weeks later over the party's defeat at the Upper Hunter by-election.

On 8 June 2021, Sharpe became the leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NSW Labor leader Michael Daley steps down". ABC. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b Visentin, Lisa (2 July 2019). "Jodi McKay ally Yasmin Catley set to become NSW Labor deputy leader". The Examiner. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  3. ^ Pollard, Ruth (15 October 2005). "Out in the house". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  4. ^ Nicholls, Sean (31 March 2015). "NSW Labor leader Luke Foley encourages Penny Sharpe to reclaim her upper house seat". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  5. ^ "The Hon. (Penny) Penelope Gail Sharpe, MLC". Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  6. ^ "About Penny Sharpe". Penny Sharpe mlc. Penny Sharpe. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  7. ^ Sharples, Sarah (10 February 2015). "Newtown's Labor candidate Penny Sharpe calls for Labor Opposition Leader Luke Foley to change mind on same sex marriage". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  8. ^ Deverall, Kate (2000). Party Girls: Labor Women. Annandale, N.S.W.: Pluto Press. ISBN 1-86403-117-4.
  9. ^ "Penny Sharpe". NSW Labor. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Councillor Penny Sharpe - West Ward". Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Gay mum set to liven stuffy upper house". Sydney Morning Herald. 18 September 2005. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  12. ^ Sharpe, Penny. "First Parliamentary speech" (PDF). Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  13. ^ Nicholls, Sean (7 April 2015). "NSW state election 2015: Penny Sharpe will seek to return to upper house after Newtown loss". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  14. ^ Greenwich, Alex; Robinson, Shirleene (2018). Yes Yes Yes: Australia's Journey to Marriage Equality. Australia: NewSouth Books. ISBN 9781742235998.
  15. ^ Jabour, Bridie (31 October 2013). "Same-sex marriage debate in NSW parliament – as it happened". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Penny Wong's moving speech over same-sex marriage legislation". NewsComAu. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  17. ^ Visentin, Lisa (7 June 2018). "Abortion clinic 'safe access zones' become law in NSW". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  18. ^ "NSW Labor elects Michael Daley as new leader after Luke Foley's resignation". ABC News. 10 November 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  19. ^ Han, Esther (25 March 2019). "Meet the likely Labor contenders: Chris Minns and Jodi McKay". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Penny Sharpe on Twitter". 3 July 2019. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  21. ^ "'Untenable decision': Senior Labor MP quits frontbench over internal dispute". Sydney Morning Herald. 14 May 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  22. ^ "Prue Car elected deputy NSW Labor leader". 7News. 8 June 2021. Retrieved 8 June 2021.

External links[edit]

 

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Daley
Deputy Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales
2018–2019
Succeeded by
Yasmin Catley
Party political offices
Preceded by
Michael Daley
Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch)
2018–2019
Succeeded by
Yasmin Catley