Australia re-elects deputy leader and bolsters government

Australia's government has tightened its tenuous grip on power with the former deputy prime minister's re-election to Parliament five weeks after he was thrown out for breaching the constitution.

Barnaby Joyce won a by-election on Saturday and will return as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's deputy when Parliament resumes next week.

Joyce's victory gives the ruling conservative coalition exactly half the seats in the House of Representatives. Parties need a majority in the House to govern without making deals with independent lawmakers.

Another by-election in two weeks could return the government to the single-seat majority it held in October before the High Court created a constitutional crisis.

Joyce is one of nine lawmakers who lost their jobs for contravening an Australian constitutional quirk that demands lawmakers must be solely Australian citizens.