Australia has a hung parliament, with Scott Morrison’s Liberal Party forced into minority government by independent Dr Kerryn Phelps, who has made history by winning the Wentworth byelection. It is the first time since Federation that a non-Liberal has held the seat.
There has been at least a 20% swing against the Liberals in ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s seat, the largest swing against a sitting government in a by-election in Australian political history.
Both Sky News and the ABC called the result within 90 minutes of polling booths closing at 6pm.
Phelps and her wife, Jackie Stricker-Phelps, walked into rapturous applause at the North Bondi Life Saving Club at about 8pm, where Phelps thanked supporters for trusting her and promised not to let them down.
"I am humbled by this privilege and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you," she said.
"What we have done is tapped into a sentiment in the Australian people, to talk about the issues that are important to them, not the issues about survival for a particular political party."
“Just a few short weeks ago I was told this was an impossible task and if we actually managed to win the seat of Wentworth, that it would be a miracle. It was said if we won the seat of Wentworth, it would make history, and, my friends, we have made history today.”
Dr Phelps said her win was a great moment for Australian democracy and "should signal the return of decency, integrity and humanity” to the Australian parliament."
"This victory is for the people in Australia who need a voice."
“And let’s hope for a bit of common-sense on climate change,” she said of one of the main issues concerning the electorate.
During the campaign, the former head of the AMA called on the Morrison to urgently remove detained asylum seeker families and children from Nauru and called on Wentworth voters to protest the government’s “inhumane” refugee policies.
A marriage equality campaigner, Phelps made a submission the government’s Religious Freedom Review and said it would be “an incredible act of doublespeak to call this religious freedom, when what this is really about is using religion as an excuse to water down anti-discrimination laws.”
“If somebody on the basis of religion can be given a licence to discriminate and say that’s on the basis of my religion, then we are headed very much down the path of a religious-based rather than a secular government.”