Aston by-election, 2023

Cause of by-election
Sitting Liberal MP Alan Tudge announced his retirement in February 2023.

Margin – LIB 2.8%

Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Aston’s boundaries align with the Knox local government area. Suburbs include Bayswater, Boronia, Knoxfield, Scoresby, Wantirna and Rowville.

Aston was first created as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives in 1984, and has tended to be a marginal seat, although the seat has been consistently held by the Liberal Party for the last three decades.

Aston was first won in 1984 by ALP candidate John Saunderson, who had previously been elected to Deakin at the 1983 election. Saunderson held on with a smaller margin in 1987 before losing with a 7% swing at the 1990 election.

The seat was won in 1990 by Peter Nugent (LIB). Nugent was known as a moderate Liberal who supported human rights issues. He was reelected with a slim margin in 1993 and pushed his margin out to almost 6% in 1996, and was re-elected again in 1998. Nugent died in April 2001 of a heart attack, triggering the Aston by-election.

The Howard government was not performing strongly in the first half of 2001, having seen disastrous results in state elections in Queensland and Western Australia and the loss of the blue-ribbon Brisbane seat of Ryan in another federal by-election.

The Liberal Party’s candidate, Chris Pearce, managed to hold on with 50.6% of the vote, limiting the anti-Liberal swing to 3.7%, which was seen as a strong result for the government, and the beginning of the turnaround which saw the Howard government returned at the 2001 election.

Pearce was reelected with just over 56% in 2001, and pushed his margin to over 63% in 2004, the largest victory margin in Aston’s history. Pearce was again re-elected in 2007, although his margin was cut to 5%.

In 2010, Pearce retired and the Liberal Party’s Alan Tudge won the seat with a reduced margin. Tudge was re-elected four times, serving as a minister from 2016 until the Coalition government was defeated in 2022. Tudge announced his retirement in early 2023.


The seat of Aston is held by a slim margin after quite a large swing at the 2022 federal election. While the ALP may be tempted by their chances of gaining the seat, it’s also possible the retirement of Alan Tudge could dissipate some of the energy that led to such a large swing last year.

2022 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Alan Tudge Liberal 42,260 43.1 -11.6
Mary Doyle Labor 31,949 32.5 +2.7
Asher Cookson Greens 11,855 12.1 +3.2
Rebekah Spelman United Australia 5,990 6.1 +2.5
Craig Ibbotson One Nation 3,022 3.1 +3.1
Liam Roche Liberal Democrats 2,111 2.2 +2.2
Ryan Bruce New Liberals 973 1.0 +1.0
Informal 3,320 3.3 -0.4

2022 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Alan Tudge Liberal 51,840 52.8 -7.3
Mary Doyle Labor 46,320 47.2 +7.3

Booth breakdown

Polling places in Aston have been divided into four parts: central, north-east, north-west and south.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in three out of four areas, ranging from a five-vote majority in the centre to 56% in the south. Labor won 55.6% in the north-east.

About 40% of votes were cast as pre-poll votes, with another 20% cast through other methods. These votes favoured the Liberal Party with 54-55% of the two-party-preferred vote.

The Greens came third, with a primary vote ranging from 10.9% in the south to 17.3% in the north-east.

Voter group GRN prim % LIB 2PP % Total votes % of votes
North-West 12.8 50.3 11,017 11.2
Central 13.6 50.0 9,663 9.8
South 10.9 56.0 9,439 9.6
North-East 17.3 44.4 9,219 9.4
Pre-poll 10.7 54.7 39,171 39.9
Other votes 11.8 54.1 19,651 20.0

Election results in Aston at the 2022 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Liberal Party, Labor and the Greens.

Become a Patron!


  1. What kind of message are Labor selling here? It was bread and butter issues where Labor re-engaged with its traditional base that led to its success in NSW if you ask me. Not sure the conditions are right for the required swing to Labor here, I’d be surprised if any incursion was made actually, be interesting to see

  2. Appears to be a focus on “vote Labor to send Dutton a message”. Normally by-elections tend to be elections on the government rather than the opposition (hence why they historically tend to swing against the government), but Dutton’s high negative profile could counter some of this.

    I’m expecting a swing to Labor not only because of Dutton’s unpopularity, but because all the underlying causes for seats like Aston to be swinging against the Liberals in the last year of federal and state elections have continued to remain. Labor is also heavily investing in the campaign this time while previously their efforts were focussed in Deakin/Chisholm. Whether it’s enough to knock the margin over is anyone’s guess.

  3. Dutton has a lot to lose but nothing to gain. OK, maybe his reputation and credibility are on the line but since he got the LNP leadership unopposed, his job is safer than you might think whatever happens. Labor obviously is tapping into Dutton’s and to a lesser extent Morrison’s unpopularity.

    If the Liberals retain, it won’t hurt either side and the LNP will claim that “it’s a rejection of Albo and Labor” even though there was a larger-than-average swing in 2022.

    I’m tipping a tossup with a swing to Labor. Labor gets ahead on ordinary votes on election night but the Liberals gain ground with postals and prepolls.

  4. It’s not clear who replaces Dutton. Sussan Ley? Not seeing it and the more exposure she gets the worse she looks. Angus Taylor? NACC risk.

    Perhaps someone like Angie Bell, Julian Lesser or Zoe Mackenzie if they’re looking to reclaim teal seats (not that they’re clearly moderates yet, just that their seats are in teal friendly areas) – they’d be going for a “cleanskin” narrative.

    Seems to me Jacinta Price is the number 1 MP that can get enthusiastic support from the conservatives without alienating the moderates, but she’s a senator and CLP caucus with Nats. Still, she can contest Lingiari and CLP can easily switch sides. She would be well positioned to take the leadership after the voice “no” campaign – conservatives will love her work and moderates will have the plausible self denial of voting for an indigenous woman.

    I think Dutton stays until 6 months out from before the next election whatever happens in Aston. Even if Aston signs his death warrant, the LNP don’t want to lose a swag of seats in QLD which is a risk with any direction change.

  5. I live in Aston, unlike either of the two main candidates.
    A slippery lawyer or a union hack – the choices are uninspiring.
    The Greens are madder than cut snakes so will go at the bottom of my ballot paper….the other 2 candidates are worth a look

  6. @John it’s not really plausible for Jacinta Price to transfer to Lingiari considering she suffered large swings against her when she ran in 2016. while she would be a popular figure in the conservative leaning areas of alice springs/tenant creek, this would be outweighed by her deep unpopularity within rural indigenous communities.

    i also think you make a good point about queensland. where i am (in north brisbane) dutton is a popular figure (esp. in the moreton bay region) and appears in signage throughout the petrie, dickson, and longman electorates. his ability to sandbag these seats for the liberals would probably cause some hesitancy within the party to remove him as leader, especially in the wake of immense growth within the three electorates (longman and petrie especially) which will likely bring in attitudes more sympathetic to labor.

    a loss in aston would essentially mean the liberals are unelectable in metropolitan australia and would probably result in a leadership spill within months IMO.

  7. I reckon we’re looking at an Eden-Monaro 2020 or Griffith 2014 style result here, a small swing to the government but not enough to flip it, with the result being interpreted as a win for both sides, Labor can be assured their vote has not decreased since the last election, and the Liberals in the sense that they’re not starting from an even below record base.

    a Labor win would be catastrophic for the Liberals, if the government can win in the midst of a looming recession and cost of living crisis, then who’s to say they can ever lose? Furthermore a win in Aston would be a sign that there’s every chance they can take similar seats to it across the country they fell short of last time, I’m thinking seats like Banks, Moore, Menzies or Sturt.

    Talk of a leader to replace Dutton is equally as interesting, I can’t see a clear successor who isn’t likely to be even more alienating to the electorate (such as Ley), or with an incredibly low profile. Maybe somebody unknown could take the reigns, Hastie perhaps? He’s from WA where they need to desperately repair their image and basically a junior Dutton (social conservative, China Hawk so forth), but with none of the baggage that comes with being the most visible politician who never became prime minister of the previous decade.

  8. The Liberals can feel comfortable and confident as long as their primary vote doesn’t go below 45%, considering there are no right wing parties contesting this time, and Science and the Greens are preferencing Labor.

  9. I still think at this stage the LNP are favourites to win here but I think it will be an uncomfortable win. I certainly don’t see the opposition getting a swing towards them as there is still a lot of anger towards Tudge even though he isn’t running here.

  10. Agree, Libs should retain albeit very narrowly with barely any swing either way. I’d expect Labor to lead on election night while the Libs close the gap on pre-polls and postals. In terms of swings, there should be a general swing back to the Libs in general and the absence of Alan Tudge but this is likely offset by a negative vote for Dutton and a further decrease in the Lib vote among Chinese-Australian voters since the NSW state election shows anger towards the Libs among this demographic has not yet subsided. If the Libs do lose this seat, then Dutton’s leadership is untenable. It’s hard to see who would replace him though, most of the remaining Lib MPs have lots of baggage, they might be forced to settle on a newcomer first-term MP like Zoe McKenzie or Keith Wolahan until Josh Frydenberg makes it back into Kooyong.

  11. The Liberal candidate doesn’t live in the area. That will be a big factor, electorates are sick of candidates being parachuted in. My predictions is a 11% swing to Labor on two party preferred

  12. I suspect that there will be a lower voter turnout instead of 92% where I think it will be about 82%-85%.

  13. Most of us knew that the election would be about Peter Dutton and would be pivotal to Dutton’s leadership.

    @Travis, I saw your prediction about an 11% swing yesterday and laughed but it looked like you weren’t too far off. Some people predicted a swing TO the Liberals.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here