Kerryn Phelps kicks Liberals into minority government

Independent candidate for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps. Image credit Dean Lewins  AAP

The division of Wentworth has been held consistently by the Liberal party since it was formed ahead of the 1944 election and for 13 years before that its predecessor, the United Australia party.

Independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps as claimed victory in Malcolm Turnbull's old seat of Wentworth.

While a revised count on Sunday afternoon saw the gap between the candidates narrow, it is now nearly certain that Mr Sharma will lose as the final postal votes are counted.

On Saturday evening, it looked as though Phelps had won with a mammoth 20 percent swing against the Liberal party.

When he was stripped of the leadership, and Prime Ministership, in August and retired from politics, Mr Turnbull sparked the by-election which could now see his successor Scott Morrison on shaky ground. "There are still many postal votes to be counted", Mr Morrison said in Sydney.

"I support strong regulators to improve the financial services system whose weaknesses were exposed in the recent Banking Royal Commission", she says.

WHEN the Liberal Party is done deciding who to blame for its apparent defeat in Wentworth, it will need to refocus on governing.

Throughout what she describes as her "pop-up campaign", Dr Phelps was vocal on a range of trending topics, including religious freedom, refugee and asylum seeker policy and climate change. "Either Scott Morrison was lying the whole way through the election campaign and he is now going to simply cling to power because, you know, he is the advertising guy and he really just uses whatever argument he wants each day - or we have an election".

Morrison said earlier in the week that Australia was open to moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a move widely viewed as an attempt to win over Jewish voters in Wentworth, who make up around 12.5% of the electorate.

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"The events of two months ago angered and outraged many Liberals and particularly those in the seat of Wentworth", he said.

Independent Bob Katter said he did not want to see the government destabilised or an early election called.

"Liberal voters expressed their anger at the parliamentary Liberal Party ... and we copped that fairly on the chin", Morrison said.

"Ideally, I'd like the government to go full term, but we, the crossbenchers, will have those discussions today with the prime minister, the treasurer and various other ministers", McGowan told ABC.

"We want to see a Shorten Labor government be elected at a general election. The next election is due in May next year, and that's time enough", she told Insiders yesterday.

Fellow independent Andrew Wilkie said he would not guarantee confidence or supply.

He said the Liberals would respond to the result by positioning in the "sensible centre".

"I know he is probably enjoying a bit of R&R with Lucy in NY, but I reckon he owes it to the party and the people of Wentworth to give Dave Sharma a solid, clear personal endorsement this week in particular". But the huge swing against the party also reflected mistakes that Mr Morrison himself made during the campaign.

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