There are just 24 hours to go until the polls open in the Sydney electorate of Wentworth on Saturday, where voters will submit their choice for Malcolm Turnbull’s replacement as the local member of parliament.
According to recent polling, published by The Australian, it is expected to be a three horse race between Liberal Party candidate Dave Sharma, Labor’s Tim Murray and Independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps, with Phelps edging ahead of Sharma at 55 to 45 on a two-party preferred basis.
The data, which was reportedly leaked to the newspaper, indicates that Saturday’s result could deliver a blow for the Morrison government in the much-anticipated by-election, despite 75 per cent of those living in the seat believing the government will retain it.
If the Liberals do indeed lose the seat, after they failed to win any of the five up for grabs in July’s Super Saturday by-elections, the government would lose its majority in the lower house, which would therefore result in a hung parliament.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned voters in the affluent Sydney suburb against that potential outcome earlier this week, claiming that only a vote for his candidate Dave Sharma could “ensure the continued certainty that is needed in our Parliament”.
“If you don’t vote for the Liberal candidate then you risk a hung Parliament,” he said. “You risk creating unnecessary uncertainty in our economy and the stability of our government more broadly.
“Throwing the parliament into a hung parliament would only create instability and uncertainty which is not necessary. On the Sunday, waking up to a hung parliament is not something I think that the people in Wentworth would want to see. So I would encourage people to think about that carefully.”
A hung parliament occurs when no party holds the 76 seats required to form a majority government. If the Liberals do not retain the seat of Wentworth on Saturday, their number of Coalition representatives in the House of Representatives would equal 75 and they would no longer hold a majority.
This would become an issue for the government as they try to get bills through the house as they would not possess the number of votes on their own to pass their own legislation, meaning they would rely on support from other parties to do so.
Also in the running for the Wentworth seat are Greens candidate Dominic Kanak, Robert Callanan of Katter’s Australian Party, Shayne Higson of the Voluntary Euthanasia Party and Ben Forsyth who belongs to Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, along with a number of smaller party and independent candidates.