Australia's ruling coalition forced into minority government

Australian Government Loses Majority With Election Defeat

The result cost the conservative Liberal-National party coalition its one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, forcing Prime Minister Scott Morrison to rely on deals with independent lawmakers to guarantee confidence in his government, enact legislation and ensure money supply.

Independent candidate Kerryn Phelps claimed victory in the electorate of Wentworth with just over 30 percent of the vote counted.

Shorten said last week Labor would oppose the government's bill, because the consequences of it are too far reaching.

But she has all but ruled out helping force an early election or supporting a no-confidence motion in the government.

Liberal candidate Dave Sharma was accosted on the hustings by protesters and confronted with leaked internal polling suggesting the party's heading for historic defeat but he still insists he's competitive.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. projections hailed Phelps as the victor after just 9 percent of votes had been counted, forecasting she would gain a 57 percent share of votes on a two-party preferred basis.

When he was stripped of the leadership, and Prime Ministership, in August and retired from politics, Mr Turnbull sparked the by-election which could now see his successor Scott Morrison on shaky ground.

"This is over tonight a little sooner than I expected, and I am certainly glad I kept my day job", he joked.

On Saturday night, Phelps reflected on what she called a David and Goliath struggle, and thanked supporters, her wife Jackie and their children.

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She argues the outcome may not even be known on Saturday night.

Mr Guy and his colleagues in the Victorian branch of the party are the next Liberals to face an election, with the November 24 state poll now less than five weeks away and the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister still fresh in the minds of voters.

"They have looked at Canberra and the Liberal Party has paid a big price tonight for the events of several months ago", he said, before adding defiantly, "But as a party, we will continue to rise again".

Labor's candidate Tim Murray won 11 per cent.

The Labor opposition is also unlikely to test the now-minority Morrison government on the floor of parliament. "That's what we want to see", he said. "Liberals are angry. And they've expressed that", he said.

It was not clear what would become of that plan following the election's results, but with Morrison now effectively a lame duck prime minister, its prospects appeared diminished.

Earlier Dr Phelps pushed back against Labor's call for an early general election, saying the Coalition should serve a full term unless there were "exceptional circumstances".

The contest had gathered global attention after Mr Morrison's late attempt to garner support from Jewish voters, who account for 13 per cent of Wentworth's electorate, by suggesting Australia could recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had welcomed Morrison's announcement, saying in a statement on Tuesday that he was "very thankful" the prime minister was considering the policy change.

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