Wentworth bloodbath: Turnbull's seat is lost as Australia's richest electorate turns on the Liberal Party

Paul Colgan

Voters in Malcolm Turnbull's old seat of Wentworth have passed a brutal judgement on the Liberal Party by electing independent Kerryn Phelps to replace the former prime minister, in a humiliating blow to the Coalition that leaves the government dealing with a hung parliament.

Monster swings approaching 30% were seen in some booths in the electorate, which is the wealthiest in the country and has been held practically exclusively by the Liberal Party in the post-war era.

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.

With almost 30 per cent of the vote counted, the ABC's election analyst Antony Green was predicting a swing of around 23 per cent against the Liberals.

https://twitter.com/AntonyGreenABC/status/1053569392074616833

Liberal candidate Dave Sharma was tracking with just over 36 per cent of the primary vote in the official count a short time ago, while Phelps was on 34 per cent. Around 80 per cent of preferences were flowing to Phelps, however.

Turnbull's son, Alex, posted a pointed message of congratulations to Phelps on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/alexbhturnbull/status/1053561693362503683

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the astonishing admission yesterday that knew the party was on the brink of losing the by-election, pleading with voters to support Sharma for the sake of economic stability.

“If you don’t vote for the Liberal candidate then you risk a hung Parliament,” he said. “You risk creating unnecessary uncertainty in our economy and the stability of our government more broadly.

“Throwing the parliament into a hung parliament would only create instability and uncertainty which is not necessary. On the Sunday, waking up to a hung parliament is not something I think that the people in Wentworth would want to see. So I would encourage people to think about that carefully.”

The scale of the swing will still send shockwaves through Australian politics, with an election due by May next year. While there is no highly contentious legislation scheduled in the House of Representatives, Morrison will still have to try and manage the hung parliament as he tries to devise a strategy to turn the Coalition's policy platform around.

But if the result in Wentworth is anything to go by, the country may not be listening.