The five special elections were the first major test of public opinion since the 2016 federal election, with the Labor Party winning four out of the five by-elections and Centre Alliance (formerly Nick Xenophon Team) taking the fifth.
The Greens were the only political party to nominate Indigenous candidates in the by-elections.
In the South Australian electorate of Mayo, Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie comprehensively defeated a challenge from the Liberal Party’s Georgina Downer, whose father was a foreign minister and held the seat from 1984 to 2008.
The Greens candidate, Ngarrindjeri Elder Major Sumner, claimed 9.15 per cent of the vote in his first run for political office. He said he will be standing for the Greens again.
“Three months ago we started the campaign and it has been an incredible journey. It has opened up a new window for me. I’m so humbled by the whole experience,” he said in a statement.
“Congratulations to Rebekha Sharkie - she will be a good representative for Mayo.”
In Tasmania, the Labor Party’s Justine Keay won the seat of Braddon with 52.5 per cent of the two party vote - about the same margin as she did at the last election.
The Greens vote dropped to 4 per cent, a 2.8 per cent swing away from where they stood at the 2016 federal election.
The party’s candidate, Pakana man Jarrod Edwards, was circumspect.
“We’ve done what we set out to do, and that’s represent the people of Braddon and also reconnect with our voter base and rebuild our vote, so I think we’re well on the way,” he told The Advocate newspaper.
Read more election coverage at SBS News.
In Western Australia, where the Liberal Party did not run candidates – the Labor Party’s Josh Wilson easily defeated the Greens in the seat of Fremantle.
The electorate may record the lowest voter turnout in an electorate since compulsory voting was introduced to Australia.
The Greens candidate, Noongar woman Dorinda Cox, said that voters were “disappointed” by the Liberal Party’s decision not to run a candidate in her electorate.
“I think there’s a really urgent need for us to step up,” she told NITV News.
“The Greens are here to basically look at how to return democracy back to the people and represent communities’ values in Canberra.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had been hoping to trigger an upset in either the Queensland seat of Longman or the Tasmanian seat of Braddon.