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.

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  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.

  14. The LNP have preselected Manny Cicchiello the former mayor of Knox who was from my memory not very popular and did contest bruce in 2013 and lost as well as upper seat in 2018 both he lost. The only thing he has going is he was a former mayor and school principle although that might work against him. Mary Doyle has been working really hard and I’ve seen her everywhere with Jackson Taylor. Depending on the redistribution I would say at this point in Labor would be the favourites to hold here.

  15. As all of Aston is within Knox Council and all of Knox Council is in Aston, as there ever any other seat is currently or historically has been a council dedicated seat?

  16. @marh Casey was up until recently a Yarra rnages dedicated seat until 2002 when it took in parts of cardinia from la trove. Curiouser fobe greater geelong

  17. @Marh on the territory level the electoral district of Katherine in the Northern Territory used to have the same boundaries as the Town of Katherine LGA. Now it includes some other areas but it’s mostly just the Town of Katherine.

  18. Aston will be very interesting come the next federal election. At the By-Election traditional Liberal booths in Wantirna, Bayswater, Scoresby and Ferntree Gully all swung hard to Labor. That could be due to Albo’s honeymoon, but those areas also have a high Chinese population IIRC, one that I’m sure wouldn’t take to Dutton and co’s hawkish ambitions and perspectives, and those swings might stay permanent in those parts. Also even with interest rates at highs and inflations still not coming down quickly, if the people were really angry with Albo they would’ve voted for Roshena Campbell back then given that the rates were still rising then along with inflation at a rapid pace. The fact they endorsed Labor says a lot about the appeal of the Liberals.

    Also the sophomore surge might apply for Mary Doyle, who seems to have been quite alright (as @SpaceFish has mentioned).

    Given that Eastern Melbourne is fast becoming a Labor stronghold in its own right, I reckon Aston will be a comfortable-ish Labor hold.

  19. So…

    There are only two seats that have identical boundaries to an LGA:

    * Aston (Knox)
    * Bowman (Redlands)

    Some close ones that are almost identical to one LGA:

    * Berowra (Hornsby)
    * Bradfield (Ku-ring-gai)
    * Cooper (Darebin)
    * Dunkley (Frankston)
    * Flinders (Mornington Peninsula)
    * Kingsford Smith (Randwick)
    * Lindsay (Penrith)
    * Melbourne (Melbourne)
    * Mitchell (The Hills)
    * Moore (Joondalup)
    * Newcastle (Newcastle)
    * Sydney (Sydney)
    * Wills (Merri-bek)

  20. @Nether Portal There’s also a few in SA although with the way SA seats are created it’s more of a hodge podge compared to the east coast:

    * Adelaide (Encompasses Adelaide City Council and City of Walkerville, but also includes bits and pieces of Pt Adelaide Enfield, City of Unley)
    * Makin (Tea Tree Gully Council, half of City of Salisbury, and the other parts of Pt Adelaide Enfield).
    * Spence (The other half of Salisbury, all of Playford and all of Gawler).

  21. @ Tommo9
    One thing i have observed about the Knox area in both state and federal elections is that it tends to initially reluctant to elect Labor internally but often rewards Labor when they are running for a second term. Aston for example had an above national/state average swing to Labor in 2010. State Labor did not need any Knox seats to form government in 1999 or 2014 but when the ran for the second term they picked up seats/swing here. Interestingly, at the 2022 state election Labor had a thumping result around here and based on 2022 state results Aston was a Labor seat.

  22. @Nimalan the swing in 2010 could be attributed to Gillard’s personal appeal in the state as well as the fact that Chris Pearce retired and lost incumbency (I mean, McEwen and even La Trobe fell to Labor in 2010 when people expected them to lose government). I’d think that the Eastern part of Melbourne swung hard because the population was attracted to the investment Andrews and Labor made in the area with things like removal of level crossings and SRL (to a lesser extent), which is why it gained momentum. On the other side the Liberals have really taken the area for granted and are now paying the price for it. No policies, investment, all noise and fart but no substance. I think that probably coincides with your observation but I agree that Labor has better form of building momentum in that area than the Liberals reclaiming it.

  23. Another thing that will be important here is the candidate quality, leader quality and what sort of effect the state Labor government might have here as it will be 11 years old next year. I think Dutton is still particularly unpopular in this part of Melbourne which will possibly drag them down. Also with a little bit of research on the candidate and he seems to be a little bit accident prone which might not help especially after the previous Liberal members history.

  24. @Ian, I’m pretty sure my redistribution proposal aligned Kooyong’s boundaries to be exactly the same as Booroondara’s, as it gained the remainder of Booroondara from Higgins and shed its Whitehorse parts.

  25. @Trent, I’ve seen your overall proposal and it’s really good. Fun fact, North Balwyn isn’t entirely within Boroondara because of a weird council boundary at Sweyn Street and Winfield Road!

  26. The Libs preselected Manny Cicchiello in Dec 2023. In hindsight, he might’ve been a better by-election candidate than Roshena Campbell – a blow-in.

    @Tommo9, Yes, Labor won Aston despite the rising interest rates and inflation. People didn’t put too much blame or expect too much from Albo.

    Those who bought homes before or during the pandemic had fixed home loan rates or had enjoyed near-zero interest rates for two years. When interest rates started rising from May 2022, people weren’t too fazed. This was the start of the interest rate cycle. As time went on, fixed rates turned to variable rates, and rising variable rates added pressure to the household budget. Interest rates are higher now than pre-pandemic. Add to that, the inflationary pressures built up from the pandemic started taking its toll.

  27. Just looked into the Liberal candidate’s background. He contested Holt in 2007, Bruce in 2013 and the state upper house in 2018. He’s been desperate for a seat for some time. He is quite accident prone as @SpachFish alluded to. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary Doyle holds this in 2025.

  28. re: 9.19pm., April 26
    “…and Ferntree Gully all swung hard to Labour…”
    Most did, however Ferntree Gully booth was +1.80%. Ferntree Gully Upper booth swang -0.34%. Neighbouring Knoxfield Central: +3.98%.

    Oh yeah…and can you clean up your language? This bloke’s trying to raise donations & revenue towards the cost of running this blog, from viewers.

  29. @Phil clean up what language? I can’t see a single swear word or personal attack in that comment. Also, we do occasionally use swear words here. Even children use swear words, some more frequently than adults. It’s not really a big deal if someone says “shit”. But even then, nothing in that comment is offensive, and even if it did contain vulgarities it wouldn’t affect donations or revenue.

  30. @ Tommo9
    i personally feel in a state like NSW or Victoria there really isn’t much of a home state appeal for the fact that both states have already produced a large number of Prime Ministers while in the other state there will be more excitement. The swing against Labor in 2010 nationally was driven mainly by unpopular state governments in QLD, NSW so i think there is a good chance Victoria would have had a swing anyway also need to remember that many in 2007 would have voted Liberal due to Howard, an advantage the Libs did not have in 2010. With respect to La Trobe, the boundaries are radically different now so on the 2010 boundaries it may have been the case that in 2022 it would be Labor seat if those boundaries remained the same.

  31. @Nimalan, I think there is some home state appeal in Victoria for Labor. Most of the time post-Fraser, the Liberal leaders and all Liberal PMs were from NSW.

    I will use 2010 and 2019 as examples where Labor had Victorian leaders and got a statewide swing whilst there was a nationwide swing to the LNP.

    Gillard had a home state advantage in 2010 and scored a 2PP swing of 7% in Lalor and increased the statewide 2PP and flipped seats in Vic, whilst Labor lost seats in QLD (a reversal of Rudd’s gains).

    Shorten also increased the statewide 2PP whilst Dunkley and Corangamite flipped to Labor.

  32. @ Votante
    Fair points. I certainly agree she got a home electorate swing in Lalor. However, in 2016 when Shorten first ran they lost Chisholm and Labor got a swing against them in Melbourne Ports, Kooyong, Goldstein, Deakin and Aston. In 2019, Labor got swings against them in Aston, La Trobe etc. I feel 2010 was a battle of the states and we could not really see a demographic pattern within states for example Tony Abbott won a swing towards him in Brisbane (electorate) but had swings against him in Outer Melbourne/Working class parts of Adelaide etc.

  33. @Nether Portal
    I don’t care to repeat it, or direct anyone to it. It was simply a request to author of post.
    Yes, children do that, & mine are corrected.
    Aston will be in play for the first time in yonks. Reading a Labor campaign diary from 2022, tells me how non-competitive that Aston has been, probably since the 2010 general election yielded a 1.8% seat margin. (Not to be confused with the swing of 1.8% at Ferntree Gully in 2013)
    The Howard era co-incided with the Scoresby “freeway” broken promise contained in my personally addressed letter from Steve. This propelled Aston to the top of Liberal pile in metropolitan Melbourne by 2004. Naturally in 2010, with no Howard, no Pearce & statewide swing to Gillard’s Labor party, & mental resignation to the oppressive never-ending (as the interval to state reversion continues to stretch in order to pay for a road in & under Footscray) road tolls, there was a regression to mean which still left a 7.1% premium in favour of Tudge as against the Liberal statewide vote. (built to 7.6% in Tudge’s last victory)
    Thanks for the courtesy of quotation marks around your example of the profane.
    I’ve no objection to a “reader discretion warning” as well.

  34. @Nimalan, the reason why Labor performed high in 2010 is due to Home State Factor, Tony Abbott Association to Work Choices and less unpopular State Labor Government (They lost 3 months later anyway.

    The 2019 Labor’s positive swing in Victoria is due to correction votes from their underperformance in 2016.

  35. @ Marh
    I agree with you about Tony Abbott association to workchoices and a less unpopular state government. My question really is this. If Kevin Rudd had led Labor to the 2010 election in Victoria would they have still been a swing to Labor?

  36. Nimalan,
    Probably not as part of Labor’s campaigning in Victoria was to help bring their own over the line, perhaps Rudd would have done well in QLD as it was his home state, although if Rudd had never been toppled the infighting might have never happened and Labor would have governed in its own right and possibly won in 2013.

  37. @ Spacefish
    Fair points the reason i asked is that i feel there is always some people who will not jump your bandwagon at first instance and will stick to the devil they know. However, if you prove yourself they will will reward to you later when you are incumbent. I feel this maybe a scenario for Aston where at 2022 Federal election they may not be as excited about Albo but when he proved himself in 2023 as PM they were willing to reward him at the by-election. It may explain why the Eastern Suburbs stayed with Libs in 2014 but when Andrews proved himself they rewarded him in 2018 and 2022. If that is in the case then there is a good chance that Labor could retain Aston in 2025.

  38. Unfortunately Rudd’s demise was his own fault he was too controlling and micro managing.i think Aston will depend on what it takes in due to the redistribution however I think it will flip back. The coalition have a strong candidate

  39. @John
    I agree that Rudd caused his own demise. On your other point the candidate that is chosen here has a history of losing and is a bit accident prone which will likely cause the LNP more trouble as we get closer to election season.

  40. I think I found the language that was objected to, and honestly it’s fine. No-one is gonna stop donating because a commenter said “fart”. It wasn’t even off-topic in the context of the thread.


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