Hung Parliament after Liberal seat loss in Australia

Things just got even tougher for the Liberals in Australia after they lost a by-election in the Wentworth electorate after ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull exited Parliament.

The Liberals had been clinging to a one seat majority, but Australia now has a hung Parliament. – Independent Kerryn Phelps claims victory over Liberal candidate Dave Sharma for Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth

Independent Kerryn Phelps is ahead on the two-candidate preferred vote by 54.39 per cent compared to Liberal candidate Dave Sharma on 45.61 per cent.

Dr Phelps has 17,500 primary votes compared to Mr Sharma’s 20,712 votes.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said about 80 per cent of preferences from other candidates were going to Dr Phelps and so she should win easily. He called the by-election in her favour about 7.15pm, not long after polling booths closed at 6pm.

It’s the first time in its 117-year history that the Liberals have lost the Wentworth seat and commentators are already predicting it will spell chaos within the party, and Malcolm Turnbull will be blamed.

There was a 27 per cent swing away from the Liberal Party, the biggest swing against a government in a by-election in the history of federal parliament.

It means the Morrison Government will lose its one-seat majority and Australia now has a hung parliament. The Liberal Party will have to work with crossbenchers to get its legislation passed.

Talk about a rock star reception

Kerryn Phelps was greeted by a roar of jubilation as she arrived at her victory party at North Bondi Surf Life Savers club, and the noise didn’t die down for five minutes.

Dr Phelps took her time moving to the front of the room, stopping to hug and high five supporters. At several points she even broke out dancing, and an impromptu moshpit promptly formed around her.

“I am humbled by this privilege and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, before descending back into the crowd.

Scott Morrison’s speech slammed

Morrison is the current Liberal leader and Prime Minister.

While the Prime Minister’s speech to Liberal supporters at Dave Sharma’s election party was heartily cheered, it has not gone down well on social media.

Many said it showed a lack of humility and that Mr Morrison had not understood the message from voters.

In contrast, Mr Sharma’s speech was praised for being gracious and respectful.

Mr Morrison’s defiant speech drew frequent heckles from the rowdier attendees.

Beaten Liberal candidate Dave Sharma got a more respectful reception, perhaps because his speech was notably magnanimous — not only towards Dr Phelps, but towards the old member of Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull.

Loss will be blamed on Malcolm Turnbull

The disastrous by-election result for the Liberal Party is already being blamed on the former prime minister and Wentworth MP.

Mr Turnbull was noticeably absent from the campaign and his son was openly encouraging people to vote for Kerryn Phelps.

Australian associate editor Chris Kenny said he thought the repercussions of the loss would be extraordinary.

“There’s going to be incredible turmoil within the Liberal Party as the blame game plays out,” he told Sky News.

“I think Malcolm Turnbull’s reputation is going to be absolutely trashed.”

I think that the Liberal Party needs to bear a lot of responsibility for the blame, but politicians are known for often not acknowledging their own failings. They probably don’t see their own failings.

But this is a big failure for the Liberals. – Voters scoff at Liberal Party’s tactical blunder in Wentworth

THE Liberal Party appears to have made a catastrophic tactical blunder in the Wentworth by-election.

Its core argument to voters was obvious to anyone who visited a polling station today. Huge signs warned of the consequences that would follow a victory for independent Kerryn Phelps, saying Labor would ultimately benefit.

“Labor + Phelps, don’t risk it,” the most common poster read.

The implication, hammered into voters heads all week by Liberal candidate Dave Sharma, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and even retired party legend John Howard, was that Dr Phelps would cause chaos in parliament.

In other words, the biggest reason to vote Liberal was “stability”.

The Australian Liberals are about as stable as a Jami-Lee Ross.

Australian leadership spill looks inevitable, three lining up

A tumultuous day in Australian politics yesterday, with a the second Liberal leadership vote looking likely in a week now. Malcolm Turnbull looks like dead leader stumbling. Peter Dutton needs just one signature to secure leadership spill

PETER Dutton is only one signature away from securing a leadership spill to oust Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to a Liberal MP.

Mr Dutton’s supporters say he now has more than 40 signatures in his favour in a petition to Mr Turnbull to call a spill that’s been circling Parliament House since last night.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament earlier this evening, Liberal member for McPherson Karen Andrews said she understands only “one more signature is required”.

Ms Andrews, who signed the petition herself, noted that she wasn’t necessarily going to back Mr Dutton.

“But I will not stand by after having Parliament adjourned today to have this matter not concluded tomorrow. I understand that only one more signature is required,” she said.

The former home affairs minister needs 43 signatures for Mr Turnbull to call a party room meeting.

But the Prime Minister has left Parliament House for the day — and it’s understood he hasn’t received a petition.

Mr Turnbull today said he would call a special party room meeting at midday tomorrow if a letter requesting one, signed by a majority of MPs, was presented to him. The embattled leader said he would move a spill motion, and if it was carried, that he wouldn’t stand as a candidate for the top job, and resign both as prime minister and as a member of parliament.

That would leave Turnbull’s replacement leader with a poisoned chalice, probably a hung parliament.

But the controversial Peter Dutton isn’t the only challenger. Treasurer Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have also indicated they would put themselves forward.

Roy Morgan snap poll:

Liberal Leadership contenders vs. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

  • Julie Bishop (64%) cf. Bill Shorten (36%)
  • Malcolm Turnbull (54%) cf. Bill Shorten (46%)
  • Bill Shorten (50.5%) cf. Scott Morrison (49.5%)
  • Bill Shorten (62%) cf. Peter Dutton (38%)

All ‘can’t say’ and ‘don’t know’ responses have been removed from these results to make them directly comparable.

Analysis by Party – Bishop leads easily amongst L-NP & Ind./Others supporters, Shorten ahead with ALP & Greens supporters

  • L-NP supporters: Bishop 87% cf. Shorten 13%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 74%;
  • ALP supporters: Shorten 59.5% cf. Bishop 40.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 19%;
  • Greens supporters: Shorten 56.5% cf. Bishop 43.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 13%;
  • Ind./Others supporters: Bishop 70.5% cf. Shorten 29.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 41%.

Seems like an easy choice for the Liberals, if they care about the poll results.

I think Dutton would be dire, and Bishop looks a good prospect – but it depends on what sort of support she would get from the Liberal caucus.

And to avoid her being forced into an immediate election it would require a change of mind by Turnbull about quitting.

But perhaps an election would be needed regardless.

Source: Julie Bishop easily preferred to Bill Shorten as PM, virtual dead-heat between Morrison & Shorten while Shorten leads Dutton clearly

More details here.

“Nothing will be the same in Australian politics”

Nothing has been the same in Australian politics over the last decade. It’s been hard to keep up with all the party leader and Prime Minister changes.

In Major parties rocked in the heartland Mark Kenny at SMH says that things have changed even more after yesterday’s federal election:

Even if election 2016 results in the return of the Turnbull government, nothing will be the same in Australian politics. Not after this.

This election has delivered a seismic shift in the nation’s electoral landscape by effectively tearing up the conventional wisdom that managerial competence in a prime minister and cabinet should be enough, all other things being equal, to ensure a first-term government is re-elected.

Malcolm Turnbull’s vacuous second term agenda…

…has clearly failed to fire the imagination of voters. This much should have been predictable. Turnbull effectively vacated the field in terms of material promises for his second term, attempting instead to sell an economic growth mirage in a decade’s time based on the vague sense that an ambitious and unfunded ten-year corporate tax plan would mean jobs and confidence, and wealth distribution.

At best it was the replacement of material policy with something approximating “the vibe”.

At worst, it was simply unconvincing to ordinary people.

Turnbull’s purpose in replacing Tony Abbott has been squandered…

…through a surfeit of rank amateurism, political naivety, and surprising first-term hubris.

Neither party can take any longer term comfort…

…from the increasing tendency of Australians to unbolt themselves from lifelong party affiliations in search of value for their votes.

In short, both of the old party constellations have major problems in their heartlands which is why senior figures within each are talking privately about what to do.

Despite its strong showing, Labor’s primary vote was hovering at a near record low 33 to 34 per cent on Saturday night.

The Liberals have lost ground to populist protectionists…

…and apparently have no answer to this trend. And the surrender of Turnbull’s advantage through pragmatism over principle offered no protection.

There may be lessons here for New Zealand politics.

John Key and National may find that increasing numbers of voters seek more principle and less pragmatism.

Labour has major heartland problems and National seems to be losing ground there as well.

If similar voter sentiment to what is being seen in Australia expresses itself in next year’s election here we may be heading for an indecisive result that ends up delivering a mish-mash coalition.

And that will only make things more difficult for whatever major party ends up sort of in control.

Abbott out, Turnbull now Australian Prime Minister

Leadership turmoil continues in Australia, with a rapid challenge and defeat of Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott in less than a day.

Malcolm Turnbull, who was ousted as Liberal leader by Abbott in 2009 when in Opposition, is now Australia’s Prime Minister.

Under Abbott the Liberal/National Coalition lost the 2010 election when new Labor leader Julia Gillard (who had recently rolled Kevin Rudd) was able to form a minority government.

Leading in to the 2013 election Rudd rolled Gillard and lost to Abbott and the Liberal/National Coalition.

Abbott has been a controversial leader who has made some prominent gaffes, the last of which was last week when he was caught on tape laughing at a joke about Pacific islands being flooded by climate change induced sea rises.

Stuff reports in Tony Abbott rolled as Australian Prime Minister by Malcolm Turnbull:

Malcolm Turnbull has been elected as Australia’s 29th Prime Minister, after launching an all-or-nothing leadership challenge on Monday afternoon in which he quit the front bench, declared Tony Abbott had failed as leader, and told colleagues that sticking with him would only make opposition leader Bill Shorten the next prime minister of Australia.

After his successful bid for the leadership of the Liberal Party was announced, Turnbull and Julie Bishop, who was re-elected as the party’s deputy leader, took to the stage to host a late-night press conference.

Turnbull reserved special praise for New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key.


The more moderate Turnbull emerged victorious from a tense late-night meeting of the Liberal party room and has been reunited in the leadership team with the deputy with whom he served as opposition leader until 2009, Julie Bishop.

Despite inflated claims of support by both sides as they sought to create momentum, the outcome in the end was decisive, with Turnbull winning 54 votes to 44.

Bishop beat Abbott-loyalist Kevin Andrews for the job of deputy by 70 votes to 30.

The result came at the end of an acrimonious day after Bishop confronted Abbott with the news he had lost the confidence of the majority of the party room and would face an imminent challenge from his communication minister, Turnbull.

The challenge came within hours.

The leadership change-over, which came just days before a hard-fought byelection will be decided in the Perth seat of Canning, was designed to reconfigure the government ahead of a general election due within a year, but has left it riven with divisions.

The end to Abbott’s troubled 24-month stint as prime minister concluded a dramatic day in federal politics, which saw the more popular Turnbull resign as Communications Minister and launch a full frontal challenge for the top job.

Leadership spills while in Government never look good.

Australian elections seem to be fought on the basis of the least stuffed up party.

The Liberals haven’t updated their website yet. Abbott is still shown as leader while Malcolm Turnbull is the very last of the ‘Team’.


Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull is the Minister for Communications and Federal Member for Wentworth. From January to December 2007, Malcolm was Minister for Environment and Water Resources in the Howard Government. Malcolm led the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party from September 2008 to December 2009. Malcolm was first elected to the House of Representatives for Wentworth, New South Wales in 2004.

For more biographical information, go to