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Liberals trounced in huge Wentworth swing, bringing a hung parliament

Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation (20.10.18) about the dramatic result in the Wentworth federal by-election, suggesting that the Liberal Party’s trouncing will re-open fractures in the government, threatening more damaging in-fighting between the party’s conservatives and moderates.

‘The Morrison government has been thrown into a parliamentary minority after a crushing defeat in the traditional Liberal seat of Wentworth, which has been captured by high profile independent Kerryn Phelps.

‘The anti-government swing in Malcolm Turnbull’s former seat of about 20% is one of the biggest for a federal byelection in modern history.

‘As of late Saturday night, Phelps had achieved a 52-48% two-candidate lead over the Liberals Dave Sharma. Sharma had about 42% of the primary vote; Phelps has polled about 30%.

‘Labor, which ran dead in the campaign to give the maximum chance of Phelps defeating the Liberals, was on 11%, down nearly 7 percentage points. Turnbull had a 17.7% margin at the 2016 election, with 62% of the primary vote.

‘The byelection fiasco will re-open fractures in the government and threatens a damaging burst of infighting between Liberal conservatives and moderates.’

The Wentworth by-election isn’t just a loss for the Liberals. It’s a disaster

Katherine Murphy reports in The Guardian (20.10.18) on the Wentworth by-election result, suggesting that voters have repudiated the Liberal Party’s lurch to the right and hollowing out of the ‘sensible centre’.

‘Let’s not sugar coat this, the outcome in the Wentworth by-election is a disaster for the Liberals. Counting isn’t over yet, but the anti-government swing in this contest will be north of 20%, which is the biggest swing ever recorded against a government at a byelection.

‘It is a repudiation. A repudiation of a chaotic period in government characterised by self-obsession and self-harm. A repudiation of the party’s lurch to the right, and the hollowing out of the sensible centre.

‘A repudiation of amoral plots, schemes, coups, and seat-of-the-pants bullshit – a howl of frustration from voters, from the most well-heeled to the couch surfers, about the endless weasel words from their disconnected, half-deranged politicians – a group with scant respect for facts and evidence, intermittent competence and no plan in evidence to address the problems the country faces.

’20 October 2018 is a clarion repudiation of Punch and Judy politics, of a sideshow signifying nothing, conducted at taxpayer expense. The good people of Wentworth have stood up as a job lot, grabbed politics-as-usual by the lapels, leaned into its smug face, and screamed get stuffed you absolute morons.

‘And who can blame them? It’s the only thing to be said. It is the only, intelligent, honest response to what goes on in Canberra these days.’

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