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Government wins key by-election


Australia’s ruling coalition has retained its one-seat majority after it won a bitterly contested by-election in a Sydney suburb.

Former tennis professional John Alexander was re-elected in Bennelong division after stepping down over a dual-nationality row.

Labor’s Kristina Keneally enjoyed a 7.9% swing in support in her favour but it was not enough to win the seat.

The citizenship crisis forced nine Australian MPs to resign.

They were found to hold dual nationality – something politicians are barred from by Australia’s constitution.

Mr Alexander has since renounced his British citizenship and has now won re-election – as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce did two weeks ago.

The vote had been seen as a test of the credibility of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ruling Liberal-National coalition. Opinions polls suggested Mr Alexander could lose the vote, costing the coalition its wafer-thin majority and forcing it to rely on independents in parliament.

Mr Turnbull was ebullient as he addressed cheering supporters.

“Thank you Bennelong, the people of Bennelong have put their faith in this man,” he said, raising Mr Alexander’s arm in triumph, according to Reuters news agency. “Liberals have come from across the state, across the nation.”

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