By-election loss the price for leadership change - Aus PM

Independent Kerryn Phelps is expected to claim victory in Wentworth, robbing the coalition of its majority and forcing Prime Minister Scott Morrison to bargain with the crossbench. Around 80 per cent of preferences were flowing to Phelps, however.

He paid tribute to Dr Phelps, as well as the Labor candidate Tim Murray, and Mr Turnbull and his wife Lucy.

A leaked internal Liberal poll showed Dave Sharma, the Liberal candidate and a former ambassador to Israel, trails Kerryn Phelps, his main rival, by 45pc to 55pc.

The Liberals poor showing was partly attributable to Wentworth voters disillusion with the way party rebels had dumped Turnbull, said Morrison.

Ms Cathy McGowan, a member of the ruling government who resigned to sit as an independent, said she expects a meeting between the five lawmakers and the Prime Minister to happen on Monday.

Labor will oppose the government on most matters of political effect, and we can generally expect the Greens to do the same.

Phelps did not confirm if she would support a new motion against Peter Dutton in relation to possible section 44 violations or a no confidence motion against the government.

"We can talk about whatever is in the middle in terms of negotiating better outcomes for Australians because I think the role of the cross bench is to hold government to account".

Phelps has previously said she will not block supply, however refused to rule out backing a no confidence motion when pressed by Sky News' David Speers days before the election.


Katter reiterated his support for the government on Saturday night with a long wish-list, including action on drought, regional development and Indigenous health.

The prime minister was contrite on Sunday morning, saying the Liberals needed to heed the lessons of the huge protest vote.

It is looking like a catastrophic result for the Liberals in the seat vacated by the former prime minister, which he held by a margin of over 17 per cent.

In fact, they were created to demonstrate that the Morrison government is unequivocally committed to every US-led war and military provocation, including its backing for Israel's persecution of the Palestinians and its moves towards a regime-change against Iran. "All governments should go full term unless there are exceptional circumstances, and the next election is due in May next year and that's time enough", she told reporters.

The Labor opposition is also unlikely to test the now-minority Morrison government on the floor of parliament.

Significantly, Morrison used his concession speech on the night of Saturday's election loss to make clear that his government will maintain its far-right agenda. She attributes the large swing against Liberal to voter dissatisfaction surrounding how the Liberal government has been operating recently.

"We will stand up for what we believe in until the bell rings and the bell hasn't rung, Liberals".

"I don't see there is any middle ground there, given the arguments that both he and his treasurer put about instability in the economy".

  • Tracy Klein