Published: Sun, October 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Scott Morrison admits Liberals are heading for defeat in Wentworth

Scott Morrison admits Liberals are heading for defeat in Wentworth

I know you're angry.

"I think we can say that Kerryn Phelps will win the Wentworth by-election and this has been a pretty bad result for the Liberal Party", respected veteran analyst Antony Green of national broadcaster ABC said.

Independent Kerryn Phelps achieved an unprecedented swing of more than 20 per cent against Liberal candidate Dave Sharma in Malcolm Turnbull's former seat of Wentworth on Saturday.

On Saturday night, Phelps reflected on what she called a David and Goliath struggle, and thanked supporters, her wife Jackie and their children.

The coalition faces losing its one-seat majority in Parliament after a hard final week of Liberal candidate Dave Sharma's campaign.

Speaking to reporters, Phelps declined to say how she might vote should a no-confidence motion be moved in Parliament against the government, but indicated she wants the government to run its full term, which expires next May.

At the heart of voter discontent in the traditional Liberal seat, which was held by Turnbull by an 18% margin, was widespread frustration about the leadership merry-go-round and constant infighting in Canberra.

"I " ll support good legislation.

"Just a few short weeks ago I was told this was an impossible task and if we actually managed to win the seat of Wentworth, that it would be a miracle", Phelps said in her victory speech.

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That would draw him level with the Argentinian great Juan Manuel Fangio and in sight of Michael Schumacher's record tally of seven.

But this morning Mr Morrison said that while it was clear there was a significant swing against the Government, it was getting "tighter by the minute".

Mr Turnbull, an investment manager who lives in Singapore, said the Liberal party has been hijacked by "extremists" and "crazies" who were forcing it to adopt extreme positions on climate change and refugees.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he didn't blame candidate Dave Sharma for not winning.

However he appeared unfazed about having to negotiate a minority parliament, as Julia Gillard was forced to after the 2010 election.

Mr Morrison on Sunday again conceded the electorate had vented its anger at the government for the by-election caused when Malcolm Turnbull quit parliament after being rolled as prime minister.

Independent Andrew Wilkie said he would not guarantee support, while Cathy McGowan, the Greens' Adam Bandt and Centre Alliance's Rebekha Sharkie are yet to comment following Dr Phelps' victory.

Despite weathering early campaign criticism for deciding to send her preferences to the Liberal Party, early polling numbers suggest that she could finish with a primary vote that is higher even than that of her main competitor, Sharma.

Dr Hewson, who held Wentworth from 1987 to 1995, said yesterday's results marked the biggest by-election loss in Australian history.

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