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Labor Clings To Narrowest Of Leads In Aston; Result Hinges On Postal And Absentee Votes; Liberals Likely To Prevail

July 14, 2001

Kieran Boland, ALP Candidate for Aston The Labor Party candidate, Kieran Boland, has 50.01% of the two-party-preferred vote at the close of counting in today's Aston by-election. There has been a 4.25% swing against the Liberal Party's candidate, Chris Pearce, but the outcome of the election depends on the counting of postal, pre-poll and provisional ballots. These are likely to favour the Liberal Party and deliver it victory.

The result, repeated nationally, would see Kim Beazley elected to government with a substantial majority.

The Liberal Party's primary vote has fallen 8.08% to 39.88% in an ominous sign of voter discontent with the government. In contrast, the ALP's primary vote fell by 2.18% to 37.09%.

The Australian Democrats came third in the contest, polling 8.41%, an increase of 0.99%. Predictions of a surge in Democrat support due to the recent election of Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja have not eventuated.

Eleven of the 15 candidates contesting the by-election have polled less than 4% of the vote and will lose their $350 deposit. Ten of the candidates polled less than 2% of the primary vote.

Aston By-Election - July 14, 2001
CandidateParty Votes % Swing
Peter O'LOUGHLIN Ind 936 1.37 +1.37
Chris PEARCE Liberal 27,316 39.88 -8.08
Mark WARD Ind 114 0.17 +0.17
Mark SLOAN Ind 495 0.72 +0.72
Mick KIR Greens 1,678 2.45 +2.45
Steve RASKOVY Ind 193 0.28 +0.28
Doug MITCHELL CEC 312 0.46 +0.46
Luke James Chamberlain Liberals For Forests 612 0.89 +0.89
Pierre Harcourt Australian Democrats 5,763 8.41 +0.99
June Scott One Nation 1,226 1.79 -0.97
Garry SCATES Ind 3,259 4.76 +4.76
Josephine COX Socialist Alliance 307 0.45 +0.45
Tim PETHERBRIDGE Hope 207 0.30 +0.30
Graeme DUNSTAN HEMP 670 0.98 +0.98
Kieran BOLAND ALP 25,400 37.09 -2.18
Two Candidate Preferred
Kieran Boland ALP 50.01% 4.25%
Chris Pearce Liberal 49.99% -4.25%

The outcome of the by-election now rests on the counting on Monday of postal, pre-poll and provisional votes. In the last election in 1998, 14.6% of electors cast votes in these ways. The Liberal Party polled 56% of all such votes. A repeat of this in the by-election will easily deliver the seat to Chris Pearce.

The informal vote in the by-election was 5.05%, an increase of 2.22%. Scrutineers have reported to VCEpolitics.com that around a third of informal ballots were either blank, defaced or numbered only a handful of candidates. Most informal ballots resulted from defective numbering.

Other scrutineers report a sizable number of voters ignoring how-to-vote cards and deciding their own preferences, even those voting for the ALP and Liberal candidates.

The candidate at the top of the ballot paper, Peter O'Loughlin, has polled 1.37% of the primary vote, of which around half is probably a donkey vote.

An interesting feature of the by-election is the uneven nature of the swing. In the Labor-voting Bayswater area, the swing to the ALP was around 4%, whereas parts of Heathmont, traditionally Liberal-voting, swung up to 7% to Labor. Conversely, parts of Ferntree Gully, traditionally Labor-voting, recorded only small swings away from the Liberals. This suggests continuing problems for the Liberal Party in holding their base vote, as was seen in the Ryan by-election last March.

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