Is A Massive Sydney Political Storm About To Throw The Morrison Government Into Chaos?
Initial counting in the Wentworth by-election shows a 27 per cent swing against the Liberals, pointing to a likely win for independent Kerryn Phelps.
With 0.3 per cent of the vote counted, Australian Electoral Commission figures showed a 27.3 per cent swing against Liberal candidate Dave Sharma. Former member Malcolm Turnbull held the seat with a 17.75 per cent margin.
The Liberal Party's vote in Wentworth has collapsed, making it likely independent candidate Kerryn Phelps will win the by-election.
Preliminary results of the Australia Institute' exit poll taken on Saturday show
Ms Phelps will return a strong primary vote, taking votes from the Liberals, Greens and Labor.
READ MORE: Wentworth And The Simmering Mood For Change
The Liberal vote has dropped significantly, with addressing climate change and replacing coal with renewable energy a factor in 78 per cent of voter's decisions.
But former Turnbull government minister Craig Laundy says it would be wrong to blame Malcolm Turnbull if the party loses Wentworth.
The polls closed in the Sydney seat at 6pm on Saturday, with independent Kerryn Phelps tipped to defeat Liberal candidate Dave Sharma.
Mr Laundy, who was a staunch backer of Mr Turnbull's leadership, said he feared the former prime minister would be wrongly blamed for any loss.
"If we do lose this seat tonight one of the interesting things we are going to see is how quickly those that were responsible (for the leadership challenge) try to turn it to: 'It's Malcolm's fault, not what we did'," Mr Laundy told Sky News.
"I argued all the way through for stability and loyalty and came up short but it's our job now and I think there is an internal struggle within the party sadly about where we go going forward."
Mr Laundy said party members needed to resist calls to take the Liberals more to the right.
"I don't think that has played well in Wentworth," he said, adding that issues such as climate change were commonly mentioned by voters at poll booths.
Mr Laundy said he had spoken to Mr Turnbull several times during the week as the former leader was criticised for not campaigning for Mr Sharma.
"His strong thought was the people of Wentworth would have seen that as an absolute joke," Mr Laundy said.
"He knew if he stayed in town it would have been a circus and for his own well-being he had to get out and get away."
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