Australia

Scott Morrison rallies Liberals after defeat

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A fired-up Scott Morrison says the Wentworth by-election defeat is on the Liberal party, not defeated candidate Dave Sharma.

Fighting words from Prime Minister Scott Morrison have helped rally the Liberal troops in the face of a historic loss in the Wentworth by-election.

Despite losing his fragile one-seat majority, the Liberal leader pledged to get his government back to work in parliament on Monday.

"When the party called on me to lead this great party, I knew there would be tough days and there would be great days," he told Liberal volunteers on Saturday night in Sydney.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison along with treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Liberal candidate Dave Sharma address the Liberal Party election function.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison along with treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Liberal candidate Dave Sharma address the Liberal Party election function.
AAP

"Today is a tough day but the great days are coming."

The long-time Liberal seat is now in the hands of independent Kerryn Phelps, who defeated Liberal candidate Dave Sharma.

Mr Sharma's campaign was derailed in the past two weeks due to a series of blunders and problems in Canberra.

"The result today is on us, the Liberals, not Dave Sharma," Mr Morrison said.

"Tonight is a night where we listen, where we learn, where we accept the blows, where we congratulate those who have been successful."

Mr Sharma congratulated Dr Phelps on her win and thanked the volunteers for helping with his campaign.

"Though I haven't succeeded this time, I do remain committed to the ethos of public service," he told them.

The enthusiastic crowd chanted "ScoMo" and "Sharma" and also clapped when Mr Sharma thanked former member for Wentworth Malcolm Turnbull.

But the crowd booed loudly when a tweet from Mr Turnbull's son Alex was shown on screen, after the younger Turnbull had campaigned against the Liberals.

Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman said the vote in Wentworth was not unique to the electorate.

"We need to be governing from the sensible centre and I know that's very much on Scott's mind as well," he told the ABC.

Mr Morrison promised the government will continue as usual - even without a majority - when parliament returns on Monday.

"We will work constructively with all of those who sit on the crossbench as we always have," he said.

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