By ALLISON HORE
As the final results roll in for last weekend’s federal election, a clear Lower House win has been delivered to the Coalition, despite all polling in the lead up suggesting it would be a Labor win.
Across the country, four Labor seats were turned over to the Liberal party, and only one Liberal seat to Labor, a result the Prime Minister, known for his Christian faith, described as a “miracle”.
“I’ve always believed in miracles,” Mr Morrison said in his victory speech on Saturday night, standing alongside his wife and daughters.
“I’m standing with the three biggest miracles in my life here tonight and tonight we’ve been delivered another one.”
Liberals take back Wentworth
One of the major changes across the Sydney city is the return of the seat of Wentworth to the Liberal Party, which had previously held it on a safe margin.
In the 2018 Wentworth by-election, Independent candidate Kerryn Phelps had won the seat over Liberal candidate Dave Sharma. Her win was chalked down to backlash over the “knifing” of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who had been a popular local member in Wentworth.
But as the backlash has died down, Mr Sharma has claimed back the seat for the Coalition with a 16.6 per cent swing against Dr Phelps. Labor’s Tim Murray secured only a little over 10 per cent of the primary vote.
In her concession speech on Monday, Ms Phelps said she is proud of the Home Affairs Amendments bill – also known as the Medivac Bill –- that she was able to pass despite sitting in parliament for only seven months.
“I may have only been in parliament for a short time but I am proud of my record. I am proud of the team I have had around me. I am proud of my family for the support they have given me,” she said.
“My hope is that Scott Morrison’s newly elected government will continue to ensure that the remaining refugees and people seeking asylum receive the attention deserve promptly.”
She also highlighted the importance of a strong crossbench.
“There may well be a time in the future where the Australian public misses the constructive input of the crossbench in this last parliament because that constructive crossbench can actually hold government to account,” she said.
Meanwhile, in Warringah, Independent candidate Zali Steggall dethroned Tony Abbott, who had held the seat for 25 years. Ms Steggall, who had campaigned together with Dr Phelps, said that she is disappointed to see her counterpart go.
“She’s been a great Member for Wentworth,” Ms Steggall told the ABC.
“She’s made a phenomenal contribution to Australia at large and I think she is very hard working and very good.”
Mr Sharma thanked Dr Phelps for her time in parliament and said the result of the election was “very satisfying” for him.
“It’s been a long continuous campaign for seven months for me,” he told reporters at a press conference in Sydney.
“I was helped by the tailwind of a strong national campaign.”
The seat of Grayndler was retained by incumbent Labor member Anthony Albanese. Mr Albanese won about 67 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis compared to 33 per cent for Jim Casey of the Greens.
Retaining her Sydney Labor seat on a safe margin was Tanya Plibersek. The Deputy Leader of the Labor Party secured over 50 per cent of the primary vote, comfortably beating the Liberal Party’s Jacqui Munro, who won just 26 per cent of the vote.
ALP leadership open
Both Plibersek and Albanese were named as potential leaders for the Labor party after Bill Shorten stepped down on Saturday night. Mr Albanese threw his hat into the ring shortly after Mr Shorten’s announcement.
“I believe I’m the best person to lead Labor back into government,” he said at a press conference in Sydney.
“We’ve lost three elections in a row. That has an impact on those Australians who rely upon us to improve their education, to look after their health care, to build public transport infrastructure.”
Ms Plibersek already had the backing of Mr Shorten and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. However, on Monday she formally announced that she did not intend to run.
“I am very grateful for the support I have received from my colleagues, from party members and others, urging me to run for the Labor leadership,” she said in a statement.
“But now is not my time. At this point, I cannot reconcile the important responsibilities I have to my family with the additional responsibilities of the Labor leadership.”
While the Coalition holds a majority in the Lower House, it remains to be confirmed what the make-up of the Upper House will be. It is still unlikely that either party will hold a majority.