Relief for Liberals as Bennelong byelection win saves Turnbull's majority

Watch Turnbull Die Inside As Re Elected John Alexander Cracks Disabled Joke

By Alasdair Duncan

A defeat for the Liberals in Bennelong would have triggered a fresh round of internal instability, but the clear win allows the government to go into the new political year with its lower house majority intact.

Asked if Mr Turnbull's leadership was secure for the term, Mr Laundy simply said: "Yes". Ruling parties in Australia typically suffer a swing against them at by-elections.

Mr Alexander - a former professional tennis play - had to renounce his New Zealand citizenship before he could stand for re-election. "The last four or five weeks have been a tumultuous time and it's been a real battle", Mr Alexander said. He characterised his experience on the hustings as a "unifying and humbling experience".

Senior Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said Mr Turnbull and others in the coalition appeared to have received no message at all from the Bennelong voters. "John Alexander, winning another title".

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The by-election in the northwestern suburban electorate in Sydney was called after Alexander resigned from parliament after he suspected he was a dual citizen.

If Malcolm Turnbull had any political nous, he would alleviate voters' cost of living concerns by halving Australia's permanent migrant intake to a still incredibly generous 100,000 people per annum, and explain that moderating the migrant intake is necessary to alleviate critical infrastructure and housing pressures in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as to raise wages.

Bennelong has a large Chinese community and Labor had accused the government of whipping up hysteria against the country.

Mr Shorten told reporters the government was "out of touch, and here in Bennelong the people have a chance to say, "pull your socks up, mate". "Most of them don't view the anti-foreign interference laws as necessarily targeting them".

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Labor colleague Ed Husic agreed it was a very big result for his party and if replicated in the next election, a safe Liberal seat like Kooyong - held by Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg - would be reduced to a marginal seat.

Labor was quick to point out that such a swing, if it applied nationally at the next election, due by 2019, would deliver it a strong victory.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would be feeling some relief today.

"To suggest that Australians who require a disability parking permit have anything to be ashamed of is repugnant", Labor senator and spokesperson for disability and carers Carol Brown said in a statement on Sunday. "I'll take that fight every day of the week and twice on Sunday", Mr Laundy told Sky News on Sunday.

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