Aston by-election, 2023

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

Margin – LIB 2.8%

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

History
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.

Candidates

Assessment
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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146 COMMENTS

  1. Admin committee will choose the candidate rather than hold a local rank and file. This means this will be a contest between Ranjana Srivastava and Roshena Campbell. Roshena Campbell is the favoured candidate to win. This will almost certainly significantly annoy the rank and file. The fear for whoever gets preselected now is that the local branches will boycott the campaign like what happened to Fiona Martin in Reid.

  2. As previously mentioned its been reported because of timeframes the Liberal party won’t be holding a rank and file preselection for Aston. Melbourne City Councillor Roshena Campbell, a lawyer, is likely to be chosen by Liberal party executive it was reported in Fairfax. But she has vulnerabilities because she doesn’t live in the electorate. Meaning this is a good old fashion parachute if she is chosen.

  3. With everything that Tudge and the Liberals have done, they should be losing this seat by a massive swing.

    I just don’t get how people see any value to the Liberal Party.

  4. In a by election the local branches aren’t quite as important as the parties can draw resources from everywhere else.

  5. Roshena Campbell probably won’t be popular with the local branch members in this electorate. The decision to parachute her in may also be viewed negatively by voters, however, i expect the liberals to retain the seat just because i feel like the liberals are probably at a low mark here. Diversification could help labor improve in this electorate in the long term though

  6. Roshena Campbell has, as expected, won preselection with no rank and file vote. On the bright side, this is good for diversity in the Liberal party, both in terms of gender and culture diversity. On the flip slide, she is a parachuted candidate with no links to the seat, basically another KK, lacking support from the local branches. She should be able to retain, albeit on a narrow margin but it’s not out of reach for Labor to win if they get their act together.

  7. I’m a bit surprised how poorly Ranjana Srivastava did at the preselection. I thought she would have performed better since she has some ties to the electorate compared to Roshena Campbell.

  8. Maybe it’s her association with The Guardian – she writes columns there from time to time, and Dutton has made no secret of his disdain for them in the past. Most of them are health related too, unlike Roshena Campbell’s columns in The Age which are often about the Liberal Party; could be that the Liberals see her as more devoted to the party, even if not a local in the area?

  9. Based on the Libs now being the opposition party I am guessing most of the UAP/ON/LibDems votes will got back to them if ON and LibDems don’t run (UAP are de-registered)

    Can’t imagine that Roshena Campbell could be less popular than Alan Tudge even if she isn’t from the area

  10. Srivastava should resign from the Liberal Party at this point and contest as an independent, whether in Aston or another electorate. It’s very clear she’ll never please the Liberal Party hierarchy enough to be preselected in a winnable seat for them.

  11. It is really fascinating to see the divide with the Burwood highway, the only booth to buck the trend for Liberal in the south is the Upper FG & the three booths in the North for Labor which were all Wantirna. The highway cuts through Ferntree Gully with the booths on the Northern side being Labor & Southern being Liberal.

  12. At the 2019 election and previous ones as well this was not the case but there still was the trend of the suburbs above Burwood Highway being weaker for the Libs then the suburbs south. It’s just at the 2022 election, the Libs performed so badly in Eastern Melbourne that it pushed all those booths into the Labor column.

  13. @ Bob, Dan M
    If we wanted to look at Knox in terms of demographics/voting patterns rather than using Burwood Highway as a divide i would look at the suburbs which have are on the Belgrave line and those with no rail access. The latter was developed more recently and in the 90s and 2000s was classical mortgage belt territory which is why the 2001 Aston by-election is often analysed. These areas have a lot of McMansions and a more ethnically diverse population. I would say in some respects it is a newer version of the Manningham suburbs. The suburbs on the Belgrave line are actually good bellweather and this article show how many of the booths are actually a good indicator of predicting the winner, similar to Nunawading, Forest Hill etc.

    https://www.heraldsun.com.au/subscribe/news/1/?sourceCode=HSWEB_WRE170_a&dest=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.heraldsun.com.au%2Fnews%2Fnational%2Ffederal-election%2Ffederal-election-2022-quiet-australian-voters-and-polling-booths-who-will-pick-the-winner%2Fnews-story%2F0c8fa89a2fc436a22b196867389abda1&memtype=anonymous&mode=premium&v21=dynamic-low-test-score&V21spcbehaviour=append

  14. Liberals should retain this seat.
    At the last election the Scomo uselessness factor and Tudge’s extra marital shenanigans cut into the liberal vote, yet they still retained the seat.
    This time there is a fresh (if unknown) Liberal candidate vs a fairly anonymous Labor candidate (neither of whom are locals), and the lustre is rapidly starting to wear off Albo & his current government

  15. @manjit i dont think anyone cares about who he kicks out of bed. in regards to the local branch hopefully they can understand there simply wasnt enough time to hold a ballot and get publicity around the candidate since labor obviosuly sought to use that to their advantage having already had a candidate. if they arent satisfied with her they can wait until the next elction

  16. @Dan M I think traditionally the Boronia and Bayswater area has been more favourable to the Libs, 2019 may just be an outlier than a trend.

  17. ben it’s more of a test on peter dutton in my opinion. by elections usually result in a swing away from the government but it’ll be interesting to see whether peter dutton is resonating with the community in victoria

  18. @Ben

    Your comment is nonsense. A federal government winning a seat off the opposition in a by-election hasn’t happened in over a 100 years. The suggestion a Labor loss will be a reflection on the Albanese government is misleading. Even Newscorp have admitted that the pressure is all on Peter Dutton’s leadership with this by-election. There is also a suggestion from some there may be a correction swing to the Liberals because Alan Tudge is no longer the candidate. Which further undermines your comment about being a referendum on the federal government.

    There has been examples on this forum of state governments winning seats off the opposition. Its again misleading because state and federal politics a two different beasts. State elections swings are larger due to voters voting on who can get the job done. Federal swings tend to be smaller where voters tend to stick to more on the lines of political ideology.

  19. @political not really since victoria is clearly favourable to labor state and federally. if albo wins it he’ll say its because people want the voice and and all his other bs but if he doesnt itll be that excuse

  20. There is a chance that Labor would win on the back of Dutton’s unpopularity in Victoria, the Libs’ failure to regain votes from the Chinese community and possible controversy around Roshena Campbell’s preselection but it’s unlikely. What’s a lot more likely is that there would be a correction in the Lib vote with Tudge’s departure and the normal by-election swing against sitting governments. At the very least, I think the Libs can maintain the margin with no swing if not have a small swing towards it but I do doubt the margin will exceed 5 or 6%.

  21. Certain Labor gain, the Vic Libs are extinct at this point. They’ll never win a state or federal election again.

  22. The Liberals have been surprisingly quiet with Labor being everywhere. I have heard rummers that Dutton has been told to keep away from here.

  23. I drove through Rowville and Lysterfield on the weekend, and only saw corflutes for Doyle.

    This is in stark contrast to the previous campaigns (and the state campaign) where corflutes were on every corner and Tudge’s face was plastered everywhere. Even the Polish Club on Stud Rd which usually has a big billboard for Tudge had nothing.

    EIther Liberal haven’t got them all printed yet or they’re running a low-key campaign.

  24. Well from what I’ve heard, the Liberals seem to be struggling to recruit volunteers since a lot of grassroot members, especially the local rank and file, aren’t too happy about the circumstances of Roshena Campbell’s preselection without a rank and file ballot which explains the lack of posters and corflutes or a real semblance of a campaign.

  25. @john surely they know its a byelection and they were pressed for time. if the dont like the member they can choose someone else at the next election

  26. Only 5 candidates nominated – this seems surprisingly low for a federal by-election?, let alone one with decently high attention?

    Even the most uninteresting backwater races in the state election were getting 6-7.

    Might help the Libs if the right-of-centre preference leakage has nowhere to go to this time.

  27. was at the boronia prepoll booth yesterday seemd to be pretty even and given thats where abor are strongest is a good indicator for Roshena Campbell

  28. If NSW is any indication, Labor are still capable of picking up 2022 election style results and their Honeymoon isn’t over. This seat is very much in play.

  29. The Libs here would be pretty nervous with the NSW election results, particularly the big swings to Labor in seats with large Chinese populations like Kogarah, Ryde, Strathfield, Parramatta, Epping etc. That could be applicable to Aston as well

  30. I wonder if election fatigue is a real thing and will hurt the Liberals. This’ll be the electors’ third election in under a year. Last year, Bragg, SA voters voted three times in four months (SA election, federal election, by-election) and there was a swing away from Liberals at the by-election.

    Worth noting is how ex-UAP and ex-ONP voters will change their vote. They were worth 9% last time. Clive Palmer won’t be spending $100m trying to sway voters. Also, Covid politics is in the rear view mirror and at the state election in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, the ‘freedom’ parties didn’t do so well.

  31. 🙂 The Liberals won pre-poll in Boronia in Aston in 2022 by 71 votes on 2PP. Didn’t stop them easily winning every booth on election day in Boronia, The Basin, Bayswater, Ferntree Gully and Upper Ferntree Gully.

    I tend to think you can’t really get a good sense of things by how many people take each HTV card because 60-40 feels the same as 40-60, they both feel like about half-half. Not to mention many people take all the HTVs and many take none.

    Even if you could read into that, if the same amount of people are taking Labor and Liberal HTVs, and they are getting equal primary votes, then Labor wins easily off the back of the Greens.

  32. I don’t know what the mood is for Liberals on the ground here but it feels as if the last week couldn’t have gone worse for them. Hard for me to not see Labor as the slight favourites in that light.

  33. Yeah I may look back at this on Sunday morning and feel silly, but I really think Labor is in with a real chance. Whatever gain the Libs might enjoy due to Tudge being off the ticket will be tempered by the big change in the Libs since 2022 – Dutton is now Leader. He might not be the same kind of poison in the outer east that he is in inner Melbourne, but he’s still an unpopular figure in Victoria.

    I do hope the Libs hold on though – though I detest the Libs, this is one of the few times I’ll ever quietly hope they pull off a narrow victory; not because I want them to win, but because if they lose – especially if they lose by more than a couple of points of 2PP – Dutton’s position will be in real trouble. I’d like to see him stay leader and continue the Liberal Party’s slide into irrelevance, even if that runs the small risk of him ending up as PM some day.

  34. Polling from sky news has 52/48 liberals way which suggests it is tight however the poll was taken about 3 weeks ago & there has been a lot off election material from mostly Labor with even a letter from the Anthony Albanese which might suggest things are tighter than the poll from a few weeks ago.

  35. @ Bob, as a local resident, what would say say the campaiging has been like yard signs, campaigning in shopping centers etc

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