Labor Retains Seat Of Dunkley In Federal By-Election, A Seat The Libs Thought They Might Yoink

Labor has retained the seat of Dunkley in Victoria's east, sending a message to Peter Dutton that the opposition hasn't gained as much ground over Anthony Albanese's government as previously predicted.

Labor has retained the seat of Dunkley in Victoria’s south-east, sending a message to Peter Dutton that the opposition hasn’t gained as much ground over Anthony Albanese‘s government as previously predicted.

The by-election was held on Saturday to fill the seat left vacant by Labor’s Peta Murphy who tragically passed away after a battle with breast cancer last year.

Labor’s newest MP in federal parliament will now be Jodie Belyea, a candidate hand-picked by Murphy herself before she passed.

“I’m not a career politician; I’m someone who wants to make a difference for this great community and further afield,” she said following the win.

With 74 per cent of the votes counted, Belyea currently sits at 52.5 per cent and her opponent at 47.5 per cent per the ABC.

The Liberal candidate Nathan Conroy was perhaps the happiest loser in political history, announcing during his concession speech that “just before I came up on stage my wife whispered in my ear that we are having our second child”.

Congrats! But also, commiserations.  

Although there was a swing against the government, this by-election result appears to be yet another instance of the Liberal Party massively overestimating people’s dissatisfaction with the Labor Party.

“What we’re hearing from voters on the ground is there is this white-hot anger, there is this fury,” Liberal senator Jane Hume stated earlier in the week per the Sydney Morning Herald.

A similar thing happened in Victoria during the most recent state election in 2022. It was predicted (by the Libs) to be a crushing defeat for the Andrews Government chiefly on account of his governance during the COVID crisis. It wasn’t.

“This was always going to be a tough ask,” Hume admitted after the loss … notably without the misplaced overconfidence of her previous quote.

That’s not to say there isn’t a serious cost of living crisis happening in Australia at the moment: Supermarket prices are skyrocketing and the housing marketing is severely cooked.

However, this result could be seen as a hint from the voters of Dunkley that they don’t see Peter Dutton’s Liberals as the answer to those problems. At least, not right now.

In the end, the swing against Labor was 3.8 per cent. This figure was only marginally above the average of previous swings against governments at by-elections.

The next federal election is expected to be held late in 2025.