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Liberals Increase Lead In Aston

July 17, 2001

Chris Pearce, Liberal Candidate for Aston Further counting of postal votes has increased the Liberal Party's lead in the Aston by-election. Chris Pearce now has 50.25% (35,944 votes) compared to 49.75% (35,591 votes) for Labor's Kieran Boland.

This lead of 353 votes is likely to continue as postal votes are counted, giving the Liberal candidate victory in the seat.

Now that the by-election is over, attention is turning to its meaning. What is clear is that the Liberal Party has suffered a major primary vote swing and the ALP a smaller primary swing. This suggests that the government is in electoral trouble, but that voters are not yet committed to transferring their allegiance to the Opposition.

It is widely argued that the Australian Democrats have been given a boost from the election. Their 8.23% of the vote is up slightly on its 1998 performance. This is being touted by the Democrats as evidence of the leadership success of Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja.

The Democrats eclipsed the Greens candidate, Mick Kir, who polled 2.4%. Overall, it is apparent that the preferences of both parties will be vital in a wide range of seats in the general election.

Garry Scates, the former Mayor of Knox, running as an independent, polled 4.6% of the primary vote. Some commentators are interpreting this as a sign that strong local candidates will do well in the general election, particularly in rural and regional areas.

The Federal government is clearly heartened by retaining Aston, although the swing is more than enough to see it thrown out of office if repeated nationally.

The ALP is claiming that their candidate achieved double the swing normally recorded in by-elections following the death of the sitting member. Kim Beazley has spoken optimistically of his chances in the forthcoming election.

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