In the aftermath of Aston’s historic blowout in the Labor Party by-election, the most astonishing analysis was not at all about Anthony Albanese and Labor, but the great rejection of Peter Dutton and the Liberals.
When Liberal candidate Rochina Campbell phoned Labor’s Mary Doyle to congratulate her before 9pm, there was no way back from the huge swing against the Coalition.
Ms Doyle, a mother-of-two from east Melbourne, advocated for cheaper childcare and free TAFE policies during the election – traditional labor policy values.
But this was the cause of the coalition’s recent struggles. Shocked by Anthony Albanese’s Federal Labor Party in May 2022, and demoralized by Chris Means in NSW just a week earlier, he now appears to have entered a full-blown crisis for the Liberals on Saturday.
Former union official and breast cancer survivor Mary Doyle (pictured) wins the seat previously held by Liberal Cabinet Minister Alan Tudge, a dramatic shift for Labour.
Premier Anthony Albanese (pictured with Mary Doyle) told the Tasmanian 120th Anniversary Dinner that he had spoken to Mrs Doyle and congratulated her on the historic win.
Labor’s Mary Doyle (pictured with Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marlies) scored a historic victory at the Aston by-election, taking the seat from the Liberals and breaking 100 years.
A Labor victory seemed impossible. Even when it seemed obvious, analysts shied away from naming it because the result would have been so amazing.
Former Labor Secretary Stephen Conroy described the win as an “earthquake” to Sky News on Saturday night. ABC went on to call it “extraordinary”. Both were correct.
It was the first time that an incumbent government had won an opposition-held seat in a by-election in over a century.
While Albanese has promoted Labor as a positive force for change, the coalition – once seen as a safe guy – appears to have transformed itself into an unpopular “bad” brand, party analysts warn.
It may be the voter’s perception that it’s just a ‘bad’ party, said former Liberal strategist Tony Parry.
The “bad” gig turned up in our research – it’s just a little “bad”. They have lost the brand of economic management.
The Libs’ failed attempt to blame the ALP for the cost-of-living crisis and high interest rates was apparently rejected outright by voters.
Barry said the loss leaves the Liberal Party with just two seats in the entire Melbourne metropolitan area after 20 years of poor performance in Victoria.
It is now clear, he said, that the party is dragging its coalition with the citizens – who have consistently held their seats and their share of the vote.
Mr. Barry added ominously: “It will get worse—before it gets (even) worse…”
The coalition’s struggles appeared to be heading towards full crisis on Saturday in East Melbourne (defeated candidate Roshena Campbell pictured)
Liberal candidate Rochina Campbell (pictured with Leader Peter Dutton) called Labor’s Mary Doyle to congratulate her on the victory just before 9pm after it became clear there was no way back from the huge swing against the Coalition
The irony highlights some deeply troubling long-term trends for the wounded giant.
Political scientist Kos Samaras said the next generation to vote has a higher proportion of LGBT people than ever before.
Historically, most people in those groups would have voted Green or Labor.
Liberals are already struggling with Generation Z, the people born in the late 90s or early 2000s.
Analysis shows the Liberal Party secures around one in five (20 per cent) of the Generation Z vote across Australia while in Melbourne it is said to be just the single digit.
Rarely has the horizon looked so bleak for one of Australia’s major political parties.
Speaking to the party room earlier in the week, the prime minister said any swing of less than five per cent would be seen as a failure for Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.
Publicly, there’s a lot of support for Peter Dutton (pictured), but behind closed doors he’s been seen as far from safe
As the outcome became clear, Liberal federal MP Keith Woolahan issued an appeal for his party to come together.
He also stood by Mr Dutton’s leadership, adding: “I’ve seen good and bad leaders in the most trying of circumstances and he has all the qualities of a good leader.”
His comments were supported by fellow Victorian Senator Jane Hume, who said she “couldn’t imagine there would be any mood in the party room for (a change of leader)”.
“There is no doubt that this is a hit but he is a leader with a strong team behind him,” she told the ABC.
Mrs. Hume said she was sad to see Campbell lose out on the seat, but denied that the result would lead to Mr. Dutton moving on as leader.
“There is no excitement in the party room,” she said. He has a united team.
Behind closed doors, however, the consensus is that Dutton is far from certain to move the Liberal Party forward nationally – although there is no one waiting in the wings to snatch the poisoned chalice.
Anyone with ambitions for leadership can wait until they are sure the party has hit rock bottom before starting the challenge.
Earlier, ABC political analyst Anthony Green called the Melbourne seat for Labor at 8.17pm after polling figures revealed voters had turned against Dutton’s opposition in unprecedented numbers.
“This is a terrible result for the Liberals,” Green said as he called for Labor. “It is extraordinary.”
Albanese claimed victory in a statement at 8.44pm and said he called Doyle to congratulate the mother-of-three on her historic win.
In two-party preference, Labor took 53.45 per cent of the vote while the Liberals took 46.55 per cent with a swing of 6.3 per cent that not even Labor supporters expected.
“Aston was painted red from start to finish,” Green said on ABC. “This is just an extraordinary result.”
Doyle gained 7.3 percent from the party’s big swing in the federal election in May last year, but retired Rep. Alan Tudge still held the seat by a margin of 2.8 percent.
Former minister Mr Tudge vacated the previously safe Eastern Suburbs seat when he retired in February, forcing Saturday’s by-election and giving Doyle a second run to victory.