Malcolm Turnbull returns to Sydney, as Wentworth by-election fallout continues

Kerryn Phelps on ABC's Q&A talking by-election

Morrison became Australia's sixth prime minister in 10 years in August after his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull fell victim to infighting among the Liberals, and the suspense over the count in Sydney's affluent Wentworth constituency was in keeping with the unpredictable politics of recent times.

"We can talk about whatever is in the middle in terms of negotiating better outcomes for Australians because I think the role of the cross bench is to hold government to account".

Dr Phelps described her victory as a " David and Goliath struggle" and a "great moment for Australian democracy".

"You have been absolutely phenomenal".

"We will just simply wait for that normal, robust, democratic, credible process to follow its course before we are in a position to know who the successful candidate will be at that by-election", Mr Morrison he said. So I would encourage people to think about that carefully.

She might also lend support for a national integrity commission that has been promoted by Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers for some time.

"The government will continue to put forward our agenda to the parliament and we will continue to seek support for it".

Sharkie said she was not sure, from Morrison's Saturday night speech, that he had got the message from Wentworth, but hoped he had thought it through overnight.

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Kerryn Phelps on ABC's Q&A talking policies and historic swing against Liberals. Source ABC
Kerryn Phelps on ABC's Q&A talking policies and historic swing against Liberals. Source ABC

"The event of two months ago angered and outraged many Liberals and particularly those in the seat of Wentworth".

The Opposition Leader was in his own seat of Bulleen on Sunday morning, announcing his $195 million policy for children's sport, while the contest in Wentworth was back on a knife-edge with independent challenger Kerryn Phelps clinging to a narrow lead and postal votes still being counted.

But it may be a tough sell for the new prime minister, who is on track to suffer the largest by-election loss in the history of Australia's parliament.

While most analysts said it appeared likely Dr Phelps would hold on to the win, Prime Minister Scott Morrison struck a more upbeat tone.

Two usually-strong Liberal voting booths in the Sydney seat have returned strong swings against Sharma, the Liberal candidate.

Speaking to reporters, Phelps declined to say how she might vote should a no-confidence motion be moved in Parliament against the government, but indicated she wants the government to run its full term, which expires next May.

Former member Malcolm Turnbull held the seat with a 17.75 percent margin.

Despite weathering early campaign criticism for deciding to send her preferences to the Liberal Party, early polling numbers suggest that she could finish with a primary vote that is higher even than that of her main competitor, Sharma.

Australian politician Kerryn Phelps.

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