Dunkley by-election, 2024

Cause of by-election
Sitting Labor MP Peta Murphy died on 4 December 2023.

Margin – ALP 6.3%

South-Eastern Melbourne. Dunkley covers all of the City of Frankston and part of the Shire of Mornington Peninsula. Main suburbs include Frankston, Sandhurst, Skye, Carrum Downs, Langwarrin and Seaford.

Dunkley was created in 1984 as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives. It has almost always been a marginal electorate, and swung back and forth regularly in the 1980s. The Liberal Party held the seat continuously from 1996 to 2019, if only by slim margins at time.

The seat was first won in 1984 by Labor’s Bob Chynoweth. Chynoweth had won Flinders at the 1983 election, defeating new MP Peter Reith, who had won a by-election for the seat four months earlier. Chynoweth moved to Dunkley following the redistribution.

He held the seat in 1987 before losing to Liberal candidate Frank Ford in 1990. Chynoweth won the seat back in 1993.

A redistribution before the 1996 election saw Dunkley become a notional Liberal seat, and Chynoweth was defeated by Liberal candidate Bruce Billson. Billson held Dunkley for twenty years until his retirement in 2016, and was succeeded by Liberal candidate Chris Crewther.

The electoral boundaries were redrawn prior to the 2019 election, and the seat became a notional Labor seat. Crewther lost his bid for re-election to Labor candidate Peta Murphy. Murphy was re-elected with a greater margin in 2022, but died of cancer in December 2023.


Dunkley is not a safe seat and could be in play. It seems likely that Labor will retain the seat, both because of their strong position in Victoria and potentially because of sympathy due to the circumstances leading to the by-election, but a Liberal win cannot be ruled out.

2022 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Peta Murphy Labor 38,506 40.2 +1.7
Sharn Coombes Liberal 31,108 32.5 -7.4
Liam O’Brien Greens 9,898 10.3 +2.0
Adrian Kain Irvine United Australia 4,846 5.1 +2.5
Darren Bergwerf Independent 3,698 3.9 +3.9
Scott Middlebrook One Nation 2,689 2.8 +2.8
Damian Willis Liberal Democrats 2,398 2.5 +2.5
Elizabeth Johnston Animal Justice 2,013 2.1 -1.0
Kathryn Woods Federation Party 566 0.6 +0.6
Informal 4,750 4.7 -0.4

2022 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Peta Murphy Labor 53,865 56.3 +3.5
Sharn Coombes Liberal 41,857 43.7 -3.5

Booth breakdown

Polling places in Dunkley have been divided into three parts: central, north and south.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in two out of three areas, with 57.6% in the centre and 60.6% in the north. The Liberal Party polled 52.8% in the south.

About one third of votes were cast as pre-poll votes, with another 22% cast through other methods. Labor won a smaller majority in these vote categories.

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 % ALP 2PP % Total votes % of votes
Central 11.8 57.6 21,495 22.5
North 11.0 60.6 14,789 15.4
South 11.5 47.2 5,299 5.5
Pre-poll 9.5 55.8 32,944 34.4
Other votes 9.4 54.9 21,195 22.1

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

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  1. @NP albo is just over inflating the avg swing so labor can claim anything less as a victory or incase they lose the seat narrowly. realistically they said the avg swing a normal by lection is 5.9% but the avg swing due to a death of a member is 2.7%. labor seem to be trading on peta murphys name effectively telling voters to vote labor to honour peta murphy. i think they realise the loss of her personal vote might be enough to lose the seat. i think the liberal vote will be around 40% and labor about 33-34%. the independent might poll 6-7%

    photos of what? the candidates? google?
    will do.

  2. @John yeah it does seem like that’s why he does it. And a by-election from a death is different to a by-election from a resignation or a disqualification.

  3. @NP still Jodie Belyea isnt Peta Murphy and there is disatisfaction towards Labor and Albo from the avg voters but i got no hostility towards the libs or Dutton except from the rusted on hardcore labor voters so i think it will be close

  4. @NP exactly even a 4% swing will be considered a victory even if they dont win the seat. becuse if you look at the pendulum there are a whole host of seats within that margin. a win in dunkley will only boost the liberals at the general election.

  5. Went to the Lyrebird early voting centre this morning.

    Geeze i had to run the gauntlet of HTV volunteers. Going by the sheer number both Labor and Liberal think it will be close.

    Reckon there were at least 15 volunteers from each major there and a few other candidates too.

    Obviously I voted for [obfuscated] and put [obfuscated] dead last.

  6. @John plus redistribution which will affect the margin too since NSW, Victoria, WA and the NT are all undergoing federal redistributions.

  7. @Np i reckon dunkley will lose parts of mt eliza and take in carrum patterson lakes etc up to the patterson river. so if the libs use the same strategy there it wont be impossible

  8. @John, no way a 4% swing to LNP is a win for Dutton. Below average swing in a by election is a fail.

  9. @John, The only reason why Libs are competitive in the seat is due to the strong Liberal vote in Mount Eliza as it is wealthy. But even then Labor would have won Dunkley in 2007,2010 and 2016 under current boundaries. If Dunkley moved north and removed Mount Eliza area, it would Labor margin could improve and might had even won in 2013.

  10. @Tom a 4% is above average, especially at a by-election triggered by the death of a sitting member. That’s why the Arafura by-election was an easy win for Labor, not because the CLP supposedly had problems in the seat, but rather because the death of an Indigenous sitting member in an Indigenous-majority electorate isn’t likely to be favourable for the party that didn’t previously hold the seat. Manuel Brown was arrested in Katherine: at a general election that would be a factor for a swing against Labor. And of course it’s very different in a non-Indigenous-majority seat with a non-Indigenous member dying in office, as is the case in Dunkley.

  11. @Tom you need to realise that Labor’s claim that the average swing at a by-election is 7% is complete and utter rubbish, especially given that there are different types of by-elections.

    In fact, there have been 22 federal by-elections in the last 20 years, in every Parliament but the 43rd (2010-2013), and there were only six where the winning candidate had a swing of 7% or more to or against them on TPP.

  12. I’ve seen comments that liberals are strong in Mount Eliza and Frankston South, it worth noting that the LNP suffered quite big swings against them through that part of the electorate with the ALP going backwards in there areas where they usually perform better. The absence of Daniel Andrews which I think played a part in the swing against them in their traditional working class areas might see an improvement there. Also there have been numerous commentators mentioning Peter Dutton’s absence from the by-election campaign over the last 10 days. I’m not giving this to the liberals but not writing them off especially how the by-election in Aston caught me off guard with its results.

  13. From memory, Labor was quite humble in the lead up to the Aston by-election and the now Labor MP, after polls closed, looked like she had won it by accident. I think it’s because for 100 or so years, no opposition seat had flipped to the government at a by-election and so they didn’t think history could be made. Also, the betting markets put the Libs as the favourites.

    The anti-Dan Andrews backlash of 2022 in the outer working-class suburbs of Melbourne, is perhaps replaced by anger over cost of living and mortgage stress (and closer to Dandenong, the issue of Palestine). The northern suburbs of Dunkley e.g. Seaford and Carrum Downs, may not calibrate back to Labor. It is also where Dutton can make or break his path to winning over the outer suburbs.

    Mount Eliza may be the saving grace for Labor. Sure, it’s strongly Liberal but if there’s no swing there and maintain their 2022 gains whilst there’s a 6% everywhere else, then Labor would just scrape by.

  14. @ Votante
    Agree with your analysis. I think Carrum Downs is where much of the focus is on being an area of mortgage stress. I was fascinated about Langwarrin as it almost a perfect snapshot of Middle Australia but it does not seem to be discussed much for what ever reason. Kos Samaras seems to feel that the anger on cost of living/mortgage stress will spray and not go in any particular direction maybe thats is why Advance is running “put Labor last message” which is contrary to the official Liberal HTV. Regarding Seaford, i actually feel it is going in the opposite direction to Carrum Downs demographically, i feel being beachside and as Melbourne’s population grows and waterfront real estate becomes more scarce it is actually becoming better educated and middle class whereas 20 years ago i would have described it as White Working Class. Seaford had above statewide/national vote for the Voice.

  15. I think it will be aline ball contest which is a win for the libs in my opinion even if they don’t win the seat. They put themselves in a fighting chance to take it at the general election especially if they do some work in carrum and Patterson Lakes. The candidate Nathan convoy would be buoyed by his minor success to run again especially since Labor won’t be able to run on peta Murphy’s name any more as they are doing now. I should note they haven’t taken down her office signals I guess they’re hoping to remind people about her popularity and hope it will rub off on the new candidate. If Labor get in barely that will be the reason. So this will be a hot contest at the general election either way.

  16. @nimlan it doesn’t really matter where Labor and liberal voters put Labor since it will be a lib vs Labor contest and won’t go past the 1.

  17. @Daniel T in 2022 the Liberal Party won 62.1% of the primary vote at the Mount Eliza Central polling place.

  18. Here’s my observation of today’s Dunkley by-election.

    Today’s Dunkley by-election has been a tightly fought contest because it represents the kind of “middle Australia” outer suburban seat that both major parties need to win in order to win government.

    What’s more, considering the 6.3% margin was inflated by late MP Peta Murphy’s personal vote, Dunkley is not safe at all with both major parties expecting a close result.

    As Kos Samaras has pointed out, there are 13 (15 if you include Parramatta and Reid) Labor-held seats with smaller margins than Dunkley, that are outside of inner urban areas. “If Labor loses Dunkley (although the chance is slim considering Labor’s strong position in Victoria), in a state where the demographics are a lot better for the left side of politics, then every Labor seat sitting under this seat is in serious play.”

    No doubt that the Dunkley by-election is a must-win for Labor. If Labor loses Dunkley, its ability to win the next election will be in doubt and Albanese’s leadership will be under enormous pressure.

    A Labor victory can be confirmed on the night if Labor has >2% margin. I think it’s likely a Labor victory can be confirmed tonight, however it’s also possible we may not get a result tonight.

  19. @joseph a liberal victory will be a tall order between peta Murphy and the tax cut Labor should scrape homè

  20. My prediction: Labor will have a strong showing in initial results. BUT, later on as pre-poll votes roll in, Coalition are going to close the gap. We will not know who has won at the end of tonight, it will be too close to call. The large amount of postal ballots will determine who won. Things will be more conclusive next week.

  21. I reckon the former politician who betrayed their country is a Labor politician which is why the ĝ9vt won’t reveal the name until after the election.
    @seq agreed we started off with a strong showing for Labor here but it’s evened out. Gonna be a close one

  22. @John the first results will come in three hours from now. Two and half hours until polls close.

  23. Antony Green reporting that postals are being counted tonight.

    Slightly unexpected. Impossible to know how many but with some amount of them being done tonight, it does increase the chances of being able to identify the likely elected candidate tonight. At minimum, it should give an indication of any possible voting trend/s.

  24. @Mick Quinlivan, Labor would have won in 2016 under the current boundaries (The would have also won in 2010), 2013 might have been a narrower Libs won

  25. @john I am at the carrum North Booth. Carrum downs secondary college. 2000 votes at 4pm. Only 1900 formal votes at 2022 federal election. Early voting was down from 2022 election. Nathan was here from 3-4.

  26. I think dunkley won’t be I. Labor hands much longer even if Labor pull off a win, with an expansion of the parliament on the cards it would move back into the Mornington peninsula

  27. @marth….. thank you this is
    What I suspected. So on current boundaries the liberals would only have won the seat once post 2007….. if you look at the map there is sea of red and only round Mt Eliza do the liberals win….I suspect Alp hold…I don’t know the margin though.

  28. If you go to the 2022 Dunkley page you can see the margins adjusted for redistribution for every election since 2004

  29. Only 2.5% projected swing after 11 booths in. If it stays less than 4 Dutton should be worried about being rolled.

  30. This seat will definitely be in at federal election. Now belyea will have to stand on her own two feet and not trade on peta Murphy’s name. She will lose the sympathy vote and I reckon the libs can take this seat from her.

  31. The speeches last night said a lot about the candidates, but also about the electorate. Nathan Conroy’s concession speech still had him yelling at people with anger and slogans (something he needs to learn to moderate, especially when running against a woman). The Liberals threw the kitchen sink at this one, with more local announcements, the big Advance scare campaigns and a more favourable ballot order and preference flows.With everything going for them, they believed their own rhetoric. But on my count Labor has won 25 booths and the Liberals just 10. Knowing this community, it is hard to see the Liberals flipping any of those 25 booths at a general election. I suspect we will see Jodie Belyea as the member for Dunkley for a lot more than 12 months.

  32. Ben, sure. But even you got a swing in your favour of +2.42 in the Werriwa by-election in 2005 and it is just like this seat in terms of, not a seat the Greens have a bright future in..

  33. A lot has changed in 19 years. I was coming off a much lower base – it was the lowest Greens vote in all of Sydney. And since then the Greens have concentrated their vote in the inner suburbs much more.

  34. My take here on the Dunkley result.

    First up, the Liberal Party in Victoria, basically since the 1980 Federal Election (apart from a brief period during the 1990’s) has been in terrible condition and what simply does help is when an elected member is suspended on the grounds she had spoken at a rally.

    And the matter is still before the Courts.

    Second point is that the (former) local member in Peta Murphy had a strong personal profile, and whilst its not the only factor, it does help.

    But most importantly, the Liberal Party Primary Vote was at 32.5% – down something like 7.5% and much of that went to the United Australia Party – Clive’s party, which went belly up and One Nation, which was polled at 2.8%. And the Liberal Democrats was at 2.5%.

    And I dare say that much of that was Covid impacted.

    But when you look at the breakdown of the booth results, in many parts of the electrate, where were swings well above 3.56% 2 party prefered including up to 11% in one booth in Langwarrin.

    All things being considered, I think Peter Dutton has done well here, especially given that in parts of the electrate, there were many booths especially further away from the beach, where the swings were between 5-8%.

  35. Paul Baker March 1, 2024 at 12:23 pm
    “OK Time for predictions. I think if the seat was not in Victoria & in particular Melbourne the Libs would win, but the Victorian Libs are toxic & useless. The result 52.5 – 47.5 to the ALP. Hope I am wrong as I will be handing out HTV cards for Nathan 2morrow”
    Who was the oracle who said this. (maybe it was dumb luck)
    My take for wot it is worth;
    1. Major parties dont invite Advance Australia, Unions Australia, or Nurses Federation to man polling booths – they r toxic – Get Up learnt its lesson in 2019.
    2. High number of people took no literature. The informal vote was 5% at the booth I was on.
    3. LNP down 6% 2PP at Aston 1 year ago, at Fadden up 2.5%, at Dunkley up 4%. I will leave it there.
    4. The state of the electorate is between “calm” and “panic”. I will call it “Calm Panic”.
    Calm is great for govt. & they will get returned – aka Aston
    Panic is great for opp. & they will win.
    We are at a point between these 2 – “Calm Panic”
    The calm is the banks r not knocking on the doors, there r the tax cuts & consensus says interest rates will fall. The panic is people know the path they r on is unsustainable. They have 12-15 months.
    The next election – the sugar high from the tax cuts will fade & so now the govt. is betting on interest rates to fall & unemployment not to rise. That’s the whole ball game, the 2025 election 12 months out.
    Perhaps Albo & the ALP gamble will pay off. Perhaps.

  36. The Final swing seems to 3.6%, which is exactly the same swing against the Libs in the 2001 Aston by-election. However, then it was seen as a turning point and a good sign for Howard. I often cite this as a reason why i believe Howard would have won the 2001 election even without the Tampa & September 11. Aston is 2001 was the typical mortgage belt electorate.The TPP for Dunkley has returned to 2019 levels the most recent occasion Labor did not have a sitting member. Swings at by-elections are greater than general elections as people can give a kick to the government and not change it. In Aston at the 2001 general election actually got a swing to them. So it is very possible that Labor could actually get a swing to them in Dunkley at the next election. Interestingly, if Labor had won Dunkley, Aston and Boothby in 2010 where all 3 seats bucked the national trend they would got very close to a majority government and history would have been different.

  37. That might be the end of the Dunkley count – 0 envelopes awaiting processing.

    Postal TCP finished at Labor 50.16%, Liberal 49.84%. Labor ahead by 56 votes.

    Final (tenative) swing to Labor – 3.53%.

    Full distribution of preferences to come.

  38. @Angus

    The 11% swing at the one booth in Langwarrin was a mis-sort, a few hundred ballots put into the Libs pile by mistake at the start. When they did the check count the booth was actually the same as the booths around it.


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