Labor has claimed victory and the Liberals conceded defeat in an ‘extraordinary’ win in the Aston by-election which was formerly a safe Liberal seat held by ex-Cabinet minister Alan Tudge.
Liberal candidate Roshena Campbell called Labor’s Mary Doyle to congratulate her on the win just before 9pm after it became clear there was no way back from a huge swing against the Coalition.
ABC’s political analyst Antony Green had earlier called the Melbourne seat for Labor at 8.17pm after ballot counts revealed voters had turned against Peter Dutton’s Opposition in unprecedented numbers.
If the result is confirmed, it will be the first time in over a century where a federal government has claimed a by-election win in a previously Opposition-held seat.
‘This is a terrible result for the Liberals,’ said Green as he called it for Labor. ‘It’s extraordinary.’
Labor Mary Doyle (pictured with deputy prime minister Richard Marles) has claimed an historic win in the Aston by-election, seizing the seat from Liberal and breaking a 100 year hoodoo
Liberal candidate Roshena Campbell (pictured with leader Peter Dutton) called Labor’s Mary Doyle to congratulate her on the win just before 9pm after it became clear there was no way back from a huge swing against the Coalition
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese claimed the victory in a statement at 8.44pm and said he had called Ms Doyle and congratulated the mother of three on her historic win.
On two party preferences, Labor has 53.45 per cent of the vote and the Liberals 46.55 per cent with a 6.3 per cent swing that not even Labor supporters expected.
‘Aston has been painted red from end to end,’ said Green on ABC. ‘This is just an extraordinary result.’
Ms Doyle gained a massive 7.3 per cent swing for the party in the Federal election in May last year but retiring MP Alan Tudge still retained the seat on a 2.8 per cent margin.
The previously safe outer east suburban seat was vacated by former Minister Mr Tudge when he retired in February, triggering Saturday’s by-election and giving Ms Doyle a second run at winning.
While counting continues, Ms Doyle was declared the winner on Saturday she was headed towards securing a majority of the votes.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured with Mary Doyle) told the Tasmanian 120-year anniversary dinner he had spoken to Ms Doyle and congratulated her on the historic win
She celebrated the surprise victory – which had even taken Prime Minister Anthony Albanese by surprise, who was in Tasmania when the result became clear – with cheering supporters at a Labor Party function.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles hailed her achievement and told campaign workers: ‘There are precious few moments when you are in the presence of history.
‘So soak it up!’
He added: ‘Tonight is a huge endorsement of our Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Albo is a great guy. I know it and the Australian people know it too.’
The PM told the Tasmanian 120-year anniversary dinner he was attending that he had spoken to Ms Doyle and congratulated her on the historic win. He will return to Melbourne on Sunday morning.
Ms Doyle was droned out by the sheers of supporters as Mr Marles introduced her to the crowd at at Melbourne’s Boronia Bowls Club as Mary Doyle MP.
‘Wow,’ she said. ‘You guys. Wow. I’m Mary Doyle – you know, I like to be humble still. I’m a suburban mum and as from tonight, I’ll be your next member for Aston…
‘I think even our most optimistic campaigners knew I was the underdog. What we were trying to do hadn’t been done for 100 years.
‘Aston has been Liberal since Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U was top of the charts in 1990.
‘We are the underdog – but boy, have we shown we have a big bite.’
The former union official and breast cancer survivor added: ‘The support has blown me away. I even had Billy Bragg in one of my t-shirts!
‘I am so grateful to every single person here tonight.
‘Finally, I want to thank the bloke who like me was raised Catholic and grew up in public housing and also like me has excellent taste in music, the 31st Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese.
‘Anthony leads a government that Australians can truly be proud of, a government that has hit the ground running, trying to fix a decade of problems and neglect and scheming and rorting from the Coalition.
‘A bloke who I am proud to have made over 100 years of history with.’
Former union official and breast cancer survivor Mary Doyle (pictured) won the seat previously held by Liberal Cabinet minister Alan Tudge is a dramatic swing to Labor
Jubilant Labor supporters (pictured, celebrated the historic surprise victory at a post-election function for newly-elected MP and mother of three Mary Doyle
Liberal leader Peter Dutton, flanked by Ms Campbell, admitted it was a ‘tough night’ at a post-election function in Melbourne.
‘We will grow stronger from today’s experience and we will work towards the next election to make sure that we’re in a much better and stronger position,’ he told the party faithful.
‘I want to congratulate Mary Doyle and the Labour Party for their success tonight.’
But he warned: ‘We will rebuild and we will never give in.’
Disappointed Ms Campbell said she ‘had to respect the voters’ decision.’
She added: ‘Our democracy needs a strong opposition and the time will come, I think soon, where this country needs a strong Liberal government.’
She thanked Mr Dutton for his support ‘during what is a very difficult time for our party.’
Liberal supporters had been clinging to the hope of a huge reversal when postal and pre-polling votes were counted, but Green said the swing required was too great to be a realistic possibility.
Pre-polling votes managed to narrow the gap slightly but Labor maintained its lead, making a Liberal bounce back impossible.
Mr Dutton later said Alan Tudge’s personal vote had held the seat at the federal election but admitted: ‘We have a lot of rebuilding to do.
‘We have to listen to the messages and do the analysis. The dirty campaign Labor ran has obviously been effective. Tonight was not to be our night.
‘I have one test for my leadership and that was whether we could keep the party together over the last ten months and we’ve done that.
‘But Victoria is a very difficult market for us and has been since 1998. There’s a lot of issues on the ground for us in Victoria.’
By the end of the evening, with 71 per cent of the vote counted, Ms Doyle had 41.1 per cent to Ms Campbell’s 38.2 per cent with the Labor vote up by 8 per cent.
In the two party preferred count, the swing to Labor was 6.6 per cent with Labor on 53.8 percent to the Liberals’ 46.2 percent.