- Labor has held all four of its federal seats in the “Super Saturday” by-elections.
- The Coalition’s primary vote fell by 10% in the Queensland seat of Longman to just 26% — a shocking fall.
- Rebekha Sharkie retained her seat of Mayo while Labor also hung on in the Tasmanian seat of Braddon.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has declared Labor’s wins in this weekend’s four by-elections as “another signpost” on the way to “a future ALP federal government”, with the primary vote in one seat pointing to serious electoral trouble for the Turnbull government in Queensland at the next general election.
Labor held on to the four seats it had to recontest in today’s five “Super Saturday” polls as a result of citizenship problems for its sitting MPs.
Appearing alongside Susan Lamb as she claimed victory in the Queensland seat of Longman, Shorten said: “What a great night for the Labor Party. What a great night for Labor women. Actually, what a super Saturday night it is.”
“Four from four,” Shorten added, in a nod to a close Labor win in the Tasmanian seat of Braddon and two seats in Western Australia that were not under threat.
The contest in Longman was seen as being a potentially close contest. While the final result may change as a large number of postal votes are counted in the coming weeks, Labor appears on track to retain the seat comfortably with a swing of +4% to its primary vote having scraped in by a tiny margin during the last election.
However, the Liberal National Party candidate Trevor Rutherberg only secured 26% of the primary vote, down 10% from the last federal election.
The collapse in the government’s primary vote in Longman, with only just over one in four voters casting their primary vote for the LNP, is an ominous sign for the Turnbull government’s prospects with voters at the next federal election in Queensland, where it holds seven seats by a margin of 4% or less. Of those, five seats are held by a margin of less than 2%, including Dickson, held by the Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton, one of the most powerful figures in the Turnbull government.
After some recent policy slips there have been mounting questions about Shorten’s leadership and losing one of the by-elections would have seen that pressure skyrocket.
But with the seats safe Labor MP Ed Husic said on ABC News that the results and the collapse of the Liberal primary vote in Longman meant it was Coalition MPs who would be feeling the heat.
“There was a lot of pressure on Labor,” Husic said.
“There are fingers on the pulse, and there are fingers in shirt collars tonight, particularly if you’re Peter Dutton, George Christensen, Ross Vasta, Michelle Landry, Bert van Manen,” he said, naming key Coalition MPs in marginal seats.
He said those MPs “are all going to look at 4.2% swing to Labor where we had all this pressure put on us”.
One Nation’s Matthew Stephen saw a swing towards him of +6% in Longman.
Labor also held on in the Tasmanian seat of Braddon, seeing Justine Keay re-elected in a close contest against the Liberals’ Brett Whiteley. Local independent Craig Garland secured just over 11 per cent of the primary vote in Braddon and the seat will remain a target for the government in the federal election expected next year.
Rebekh Sharkie of the Centre Alliance held on comfortably in the South Australian seat of Mayo, with a swing over 3 per cent towards her on a two-party preferred basis against Georgina Downer, daughter of former foreign minister Alexander Downer.
Georgina Downer is expected to recontest the seat, which was held by her father, for the Liberals at the next federal election.