In a stunning moment in Australian politics, the heart of the Liberal Party has turned against the Morrison government and sent some of its most prominent figures out of politics, with a huge swing in Victoria for Labor and Independents , and teal independents grabbing the key Liberal seats in Sydney.
Federal Treasurer and Liberal heir apparent Josh Frydenberg is the biggest casualty, losing Kooyong to independent Monique Ryan. Fellow junior Tim Wilson is also out, beaten by independent Zoe Daniel at Goldstein.
Labor is now able to form a minority government and could still win enough seats to form a full government.
The Liberals appear to have suffered a 5% swing in Victoria and also lost Chisholm and the once secure seat of Higgins to Labour.
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In Sydney, there were other shocks: Independent Allegra Spender easily dispatched incumbent MP Dave Sharma to Wentworth; in Mackellar, once the bluest of blue-ribbon seats, Jason Falinski was crushed by independent Sophie Scamps; and Kylea Tink easily beat liberal moderate Trent Zimmerman.
The swing against the government was also in the 5% range in New South Wales, but Labor has also fallen back and appears to have lost Fowler’s safe seat to Liberal-linked independent Dai Le. Labor’s decision to parachute in former New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally now looks hugely costly.
Labor also struggled to win seats elsewhere, failing to make a dent in the Liberal vote in Tasmania and only winning Brisbane in Queensland (though still in doubt, with the Greens also having a chance), losing Griffith for the benefit of the Greens and having to watch the Greens snatch Ryan.
In South Australia, a nearly 6% swing against the government saw Boothby and Sturt fall to Labour.
It was a better story for Labor in Western Australia, where predictions of a strong Labor result (after years of trying) finally proved correct: Labor picked up Pearce, Swan, Curtin and Hasluck and seemed to have a strong chance to Moore.
At the time of writing, Labor remains short of a majority, still needing 4-5 seats to make its way to 76 seats. The likeliest scenario is that a now massive crossover bench of independents Teals, Greens and usual suspects Andrew Wilkie, Bob Katter and Helen Haines have left to negotiate with both sides.
The success of the Teal Independents is extraordinary, even their most ardent supporters are surprised by their success in the Liberal heart seats, and an air of surprise and amazement among Tink’s supporters.
The visceral nature of the liberal heart’s reaction may be a rift that will take several elections to heal. Whether independents have a chance to leverage their power in a minority government is the remaining question from election night 2022.