Published: Sun, December 17, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Liberal holds Bennelong despite swing

Liberal holds Bennelong despite swing

With almost 15,000 votes from six of the 39 booths counted around 7.30pm, Mr Alexander has suffered a swing of around six per cent on his primary vote while Ms Keneally has improved Labor's vote by around the same figure.

The Bennelong Leagues Club erupted in celebration as Liberal candidate John Alexander held on to victory after a tight, bitter campaign against Ms Keneally.

A loss would have left the government with 75 seats, in the 150-seat House of Representatives, forcing it to rely on the cross bench to get its legislation through.

Alexander's victory against Labor's star candidate, former NSW premier Kristina Keneally, will come as a relief to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Several hundred party faithful, dressed in blue and surrounded by balloons, let out a rapturous cheer on Saturday upon news the Liberal Party had held on to Bennelong, and with it the government's one seat majority in parliament.

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Ms Payne, who described Mr Alexander as "a great friend", handed out how-to-vote cards at a local school in the morning.

"Australia's security, prosperity, depends on John Alexander being back as part of our government, delivering more than 1000 jobs a day", he said.

The buoyant crowd let out jeers as vision of the sombre Labor function less than a kilometre away was flashed on screen following a campaign marred with dirty tricks and stunts.

Former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi's new party, Australian Conservatives is running a candidate, who has attracted around 4.7 per cent of the primary vote.

"It was a little bit malicious but it does have an effect on people and it does swap people's thinking, so I suppose it did work to a degree, on me at least", Mr Johnson said.

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Mr Turnbull acknowledged it was a "very, very close contest" when he and Mr Alexander met with voters at Gladesville Public School.

"We know this government is out of touch, and here in Bennelong the people have a chance to say "pull your socks up, mate".

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Mr Alexander, who quit after being caught up in the Parliamentary citizenship saga.

Meanwhile, the Liberals have continually reminded voters of Ms Keneally's time as NSW premier, when she led Labor to the biggest election defeat in the state's history.

With voting underway in Bennelong, Australia's political class is holding its breath over the result of the crucial by-election that could not only determine the future of the Government, but also the fate of its leader.

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"John, you are Bennelong's champion just as you have been Australia's champion".

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