Libs hold Curtin after Bishop’s exit
Julie Bishop's former WA seat of Curtin looks has stuck to the Liberals following a troubled campaign by independent Louise Stewart.
News.com.au and Sky News have called the seat for Liberal Celia Hammond. The Liberal Party leads with a convincing 63.8 per cent of the vote after 28.58 per cent of votes were counted.
Millionaire independent Ms Stewart was engulfed in a fake polling scandal late last month, after she faced accusations of fabricating a poll showing she was close to victory.
Senator Mathias Cormann called on Ms Stewart to pull out of the race after The West Australian published the results, which suggested she would secure 23.9 per cent of the primary vote.
But the co-owner of the company that her campaign said carried out the polling, denied conducting any polling in the seat.
Ms Stewart subsequently claimed the Liberals were behind the doctored survey, suggesting it came from a company tied to Alex Turnbull, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's son.
Mr Turnbull said he had no knowledge of the poll.
Curtin has long been a safe Liberal seat, and despite the departure of the wildly popular Ms Bishop, it's expected to remain rock solid for the party.
A state-focused Newspoll this week put the Coalition ahead of Labor at 52 to 48 per cent in Western Australia. While this is good news for the Liberals, it still represents a swing away from the party in the blue-ribbon seat.
There was speculation Attorney-General Christian Porter wanted to switch to Curtin when she announced she would quit politics. That didn't happen.
Instead, Mr Porter has to defend his moderate margin of 3.6 per cent in Pearce - a margin that dropped sharply from over 8 per cent at the last election.
There will undoubtedly be a sharp focus on Curtin throughout the campaign, and whether the socially conservative Celia Hammond can hold onto Ms Bishop's level of support.
The candidates for Curtin, aside from Ms Stewart, include Celia Hammond (Liberal Party), Rob Meecham (Labor Party), Cameron Pidgeon (Greens), Joan Lever (United Australia Party) and Bill Edgar (One Nation).
Ms Bishop joined Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the WA launch of the party's campaign in Burswood earlier this month.
She was greeted by thunderous applause as she welcomed Mr Morrison at The Camfield, telling the crowd: "That is how we rock in WA, go team! We will ensure we are giving to Australians and, in particular West Australians, what we know they need."
Ms Bishop announced she would resign from politics shortly after the leadership spill last August. She ran for the leadership but lost to Mr Morrison and Peter Dutton in the first round. She has widely been regarded as one of the most popular senior Liberal MPs among voters for a long time.