Labor appears to have won an ‘extraordinary’ victory in the by-election in Aston, which was previously a safe Liberal seat held by ex-cabinet minister Alan Tudge.
ABC’s political analyst Antony Green convened the Melbourne seat for Labor at 8.17pm after the vote count showed voters had turned against the coalition in unprecedented numbers.
Labor’s Mary Doyle has 41.6 per cent of the vote after 43.8 per cent of the vote has been counted, with Liberal Roshena Campbell on just 35.6, swinging 6.3 to Labour.
If the result is confirmed, it will be the first time in more than a century that a federal government has claimed a by-election victory in a seat previously held by the opposition.
“This is a terrible result for the Liberals,” Green said as he put it for Labour. “It’s extraordinary.”
It would be the first time a federal government has won an opposition seat in a by-election since 1920, when the Conservative Nationalist Party won the Kalgoorlie seat from Labour.
Liberal supporters are clinging to hopes of a huge turnaround when the votes are counted by mail and before the election, but Green said the swing now required is too large to be a realistic possibility.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese claimed victory in a statement at 8.44pm, saying he called Ms Doyle to congratulate her on her historic victory.
Former Labor Senator Stephen Conroy said mail-in votes historically tended towards the Liberal party, and were expected to be counted on Sunday.
Liberal MP Dan Tehan told Sky News it is too early to say who will win the by-election.
“The first numbers are not great, but we have to wait and see,” said Tehan.
“We always thought it would be close.
“The early indications make you a little more nervous than you normally would have been.”
Ms Doyle took a massive 7.3 per cent blow for the party in the federal election, but outgoing MP Alan Tudge still retained the seat by a margin of 2.8 per cent.
Australian Electoral Commission officials will spend the next few hours counting the votes collected Saturday at the 32 polling stations.
A total of 110,331 people are registered with Aston.
About 12,000 mailed votes had been received by the AEC by 5 p.m. Friday, after 18,000 applications had been received.
According to the AEC, there were also an additional 23,000 people who already voted before Saturday at an early voting center.
Press to ‘send message’ to the Liberal Party
The Labor Party previously called on voters in Aston to send a message to Opposition Leader Peter Dutton in a last ditch bid to win back the historically safe Liberal seat.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles told Sky News on Saturday that Aston voters now have a chance to ‘send a message’ to the opposition leader.
“This is a seat that had a 55% Liberal majority just four years ago and something extraordinary is happening here,” said Mr Giles.
“It’s a very tight race, it’s a tight race because of Mary’s campaign and also because Peter Dutton and the Liberals are out of touch with the values of the suburban Melbourne voters.
“I heard that over and over when I was here with Mary.”
But opposition leader Peter Dutton, who joined Liberal candidate Roshena Campbell on Saturday, is not about “changing the government” in today’s by-election.
“Today is not about a general election,” Dutton said.
‘It’s about choosing a strong local representative.
“The Labor Party has been slinging mud for the last month – they haven’t explained to the people of Aston why they scrapped road funding as their first act in government.”
ANTHONY ALBANIAN MARY DOYLE
Albo lends a hand
Anthony Albanese paid a visit to the electorate in Melbourne’s east on Saturday morning, hours after polls opened.
Mr Albanese said he hopes Labour’s policies on social issues will be enough to attract suburban voters to show their support for Ms Doyle, a single mother and cancer survivor.
“The trend is moving in the right direction with the numbers this week, but we know that the cost of living is under pressure,” Mr Albanese said.
‘That is why we have taken measures such as lowering the cost of medicines and cheaper childcare.
“That is why we support that people on minimum wages do not deteriorate further.”
ANTHONY ALBANIAN MARY DOYLE
ANTHONY ALBANIAN MARY DOYLE
Mr Albanese went on to say a win would be a hard win for the government to qualify on Saturday.
“(The opposition) have become the observers rather than the participants in our national parliament and that is why I want Mary Doyle elected today,” he said.
‘It’s tough, oppositions generally come in handy. When Labor was in government, the by-election swings were between 5 and 6 per cent in the direction of the opposition.
“In more than 100 years, no government has won an opposition seat in a by-election. We’ll try today.’
Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the Labor government has introduced policies over the past year that have had a negative impact on local people.
‘[Labor] I didn’t explain to the people of Aston why the government’s first act was to cut road funding, which is quite remarkable,” said Mr Dutton.
“It’s a disaster for the local population and people are realizing that the first act of the Albanian government was to cut road funding here in Aston… They’ve never apologized for it, they’ve never explained why.”
Mr. Dutton also focused on the rising cost of living since last year’s federal election.
“There are many Australian families who heard Anthony Albanese promise 97 times before the last election that he would reduce your power to $275,” he said.
“That was a promise he made before the election, he has never spoken about it since then, not once.
So the cost of living pressures are real for families and the opportunity in today’s election is to send a very clear signal to Labor that they should not cut local road funding and that they are not letting this community down have to leave.’
The seat of Aston was created in 1984 and was held by Labor until 1990, but has not won it since.
AMBITIOUS ASTON PLAN REVEALED
Labour’s Aston by-election candidate has set out her ambition to take a seat in a bid to ‘make history’.
Mary Doyle, who took a huge 7.3 percent swing for the party in the federal election, said she has no qualms about not being the favorite to win in Saturday’s poll.
“I really hope I can win it, but I realize it’s a really big mountain to climb, but I’ve never shied away from climbing the mountain, even with a dodgy knee,” she told Today.
“I was born in the year of the dog and I hope this will be the year of the underdog.”
The breakfast show reporter went on to clarify that if Labor takes the seat it will ‘make history’ as no government in over 100 years has taken an opposition seat away in a by-election.
ASTON BALLET drawing
However, the Liberal Party is expected to retain the seat in the first election test ahead of both Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton.
The Liberals occupy the previously safe seat in the Eastern Suburbs – vacated by former minister Alan Tudge when he retired in February – by a margin of 2.8 per cent after a massive swipe against the party in the election of last year.
Both sides say it will be an uphill battle, but expect the Liberals to hold on.
“I think it’s tight, but we’ll get there,” Dutton said on Friday.
But the by-election is also portrayed as a test of the leaders, most notably Mr Dutton, who took over the leadership of the Liberal party from Scott Morrison after the Coalition was thrown out of government.
The Prime Minister told the Labor caucus earlier this week that anything less than five per cent to the opposition would be a ‘failure’ for the opposition leader.
PM Anthony Albanian
When asked if a poor performance would prove his leadership terminal, Mr Dutton took a page from the Morrison playbook and labeled it ‘Canberra gossip’.
“I’m focusing on making sure Roshena Campbell is in parliament next week because the Aston seat deserves a very strong local member and that’s what this by-election is about,” he said during the week.
The Liberal campaign has focused on cost-of-living pressures.
“There’s an opportunity here to send a message to Labor that it’s just not good enough as the pressure of living continues to mount,” Dutton said.
TIME FOR QUESTIONS
Scott Morrison’s unpopularity, combined with the controversy surrounding Alan Tudge, contributed to a 7.3 per cent bipartisan swing against the Liberals in Aston last May.
The results of the midterm elections have no influence on the composition of the House of Representatives.
But after a painful defeat in NSW left Tasmania the only blue state, Liberals will look to the results for a morale boost.
Mr Albanese says it would be ‘very difficult’ for Ms Doyle to overthrow the Liberals as history was against them. Just like the polls. No government has won an opposition seat in more than a century.
“The Liberals should keep Aston by a huge majority,” he told reporters in Brisbane on Friday.
“The fact that the Liberal Party has to spend so much money, and that they spent massively more than Labor during this by-election to keep one of their core seats says everything about the state of the Liberal Party’s brand. ‘
PM Anthony Albanian
ASTON BALLET drawing
Meanwhile, the Australian Electoral Commission is urging all voters in Aston to ensure they vote in by-elections, reminding that it is mandatory.
Australian Election Commissioner Tom Rogers said he was concerned about the low number of votes cast ahead of Election Day.
“If someone votes early in one election, they tend to vote early in the next — and we don’t quite see that here, which makes us worry about low voter turnout,” he said.
“Failure to vote can result in a fine and means you have no say in who you represent in federal parliament.”
Apart from Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Doyle, there are three more candidates on the list. They are Owen Miller of the Fusion Party, Angelica Di Camillo of the Greens and the independent Maya Tesa.
On Saturday, 32 polling stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. A total of 110,331 people are registered with Aston.
Counting starts at 6:00 PM.