The Liberal Party’s John Alexander will win the by-election in the federal Sydney seat of Bennelong, the ABC’s election analyst Antony Green has predicted.
There was a lot riding on the result — if the Liberals lost the Federal Government would have lost its one-seat majority in the Lower House.
The Liberal Party hold the seat with a margin of 9.7 per cent.
The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Mr Alexander, who quit after being caught up in the Parliamentary citizenship saga.
Mr Alexander re-contested and his main rival was Labor’s Kristina Keneally — a former NSW premier.
The battle for Bennelong was dirty and personal, and major parties threw masses of resources at the contest.
Mr Green said the results so far show that while there was a swing to Labor it was not big enough for the party to win at this stage.
“There is a 5 per cent swing. There is no sign of a swing larger than that which would endanger the Liberal Party holding the seat and John Alexander will be re-elected,” Mr Green said.
Ms Keneally addressed Labor Party supporters to concede defeat, saying the Turnbull Government should be worried about the swing seen in Bennelong.
“It seems like we are going to achieve about 5.5 to 6 per cent swing to the Labor Party. Friends, that is in a safe Liberal seat,” Ms Keneally said.
“Let’s just understand what this means. If this result was replicated at a general election we would see 24 to 28 seats fall.”
“We said when we went into this that we were the underdogs. We needed to achieve a 10 per cent swing, we needed to get 9,000 people to change their vote from how they voted just a year ago. That is a huge ask,” Ms Keneally said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also addressed the crowd, saying he was confident the swing to Labor was a sign of things to come for Labor.
“If Labor could replicate this swing, which was accomplished by all of you, led by Kristina, in Bennelong, I have no doubt that at a general election Labor will form a government,” Mr Shorten said.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has campaigned with Mr Alexander in recent days, is expected to address Liberal Party supporters shortly.
Mr Alexander’s campaign was hindered by allegations he delayed in revealing his constitutional concerns, and accusations the Coalition is running anti-China rhetoric in its attack on outgoing Labor senator Sam Dastyari.
Labor picked Ms Keneally to go up against Mr Alexander to capitalise on the saga, but the Coalition repeatedly attacked her record as New South Wales premier.
The journalist was the state’s leader from 2009 to 2011.
Ms Keneally claimed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was “China-phobic” and pledged to “stand up for the Chinese community in Bennelong”.