Historic win expected for independent in Liberal safe seat

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An independent candidate is expected to win in a crucial by-election for the Australian government.

Wentworth, a seat held by the governing Liberal Party since 1944, looks set to elect Kerryn Phelps, a former president of the Australian Medical Association.

This now means that the Coalition government has lost its majority in the Australian lower house, the House of Representatives.

The seat, formerly held by ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has seen a swing of more than 20 percent against the Liberal Party, amid criticism of Turnbull being ousted as Prime Minister and of the government’s climate change policy. This is the highest swing away from a governing party in Australian political history.

With 20% of first preference votes counted, the Liberal Party are currently on 35.6%, Phelps on 34.7%, with the Labor Party trailing far behing on 11.8%. According to ABC Australia, it is anticipated that Phelps will win 56.9% in the instant run-off vote between the top two candidates.

One Labor MP has already been quick to suggest that the government should call an early general election. Linda Burney said on ABC Australia: “This is an unprecedented result for the Liberal Party, and I think Mr Morrison needs to think about calling a general election. This is such a monumental wipe-out in one of the safest Liberal seats in the country.”

Others have said that today’s result should act as a wake-up call for both the Liberal and Labour parties.

More to follow

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