Australian government suffers major defeat in Wentworth by-election

23 October, 2018, 00:47 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Australian Government Loses Majority With Election Defeat

While minor-party lawmakers have indicated they won't support any no-confidence motion in the government that may force an early election, the by-election result shows voters are disillusioned with the infighting in the ruling Liberal- National coalition government that's caused policy paralysis in key areas including energy security and tackling climate change.

While most analysts said it appeared likely Phelps would hold on to the win, Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a more upbeat tone.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. projections hailed Ms. Phelps as the victor after just 9 % of votes had been counted, forecasting she would gain a 57 percent share of votes on a two-party preferred basis.

Voters in Malcolm Turnbull's old seat of Wentworth have passed a brutal judgement on the Liberal Party by electing independent Kerryn Phelps to replace the former prime minister, in a humiliating blow to the Coalition that leaves the government dealing with a hung parliament.

The by-election was triggered when Turnbull resigned from the parliament after he was deposed as PM by the Liberal Party in August with Scott Morrison installed as leader.

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Senior Labor figures have said that they will not seek to bring down the minority government on the floor of parliament, and have declared that Labor can offer an alternative to the "chaos and division" of the Coalition.

Mr Turnbull travelled to NY with his wife, Lucy, after the Liberal Party's leadership spill that toppled him from the nation's top job in August. This imperils the deeply-divided government and means that it will be dependent on support from cross-bench MPs to pass legislation in the lower house.

Liberals had a hard time defending Wentworth throughout the by-election campaign: Turnbull was a wildly popular local figure who built his 17.7 percent vote margin over a decade, and voters have said that they would take the by-election as an opportunity to lodge a protest vote.

In a series of posts and videos, he said the Morrison government had been captured by right-wing "extremists" - he also created a "top 5 craziest Liberals" list.

In comments that will add critical momentum to the debate, Phelps said resettling asylum seekers in New Zealand was "an extremely good option" and refugee advocates had spoken to her about that being "a very good interim position, and so it's definitely on the table".

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"I'd advise them to think extremely carefully and to make careful plans to the extent that you can", Dr Phelps said.

But by Sunday evening, his candidate trailed an independent rival by 1,600 votes with several thousand votes still to be counted, the Australian Electoral Commission said.

"We will continue to work closely with the crossbench members to get the right outcomes there".

"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. "Yesterday Liberal voters expressed their anger at the parliamentary Liberal party".

Greens MP Adam Bandt, the Centre Alliance's Rebekha Sharkie and independent Andrew Wilkie are pushing strongly as well.

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Media commentators and the Labor opposition asserted that Morrison's statements were aimed only at garnering votes from the large Jewish community within the Wentworth electorate.



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