‘Rookie’ recruit retains Dunkley for Labor despite swing

Source: AAP

A self-described “mum from Frankston with two dogs and a mortgage'” has retained the Victorian seat of Dunkley for Labor in a poor result for Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.

Community leader Jodie Belyea joked that she was now “the second most important Jodie in Albo’s life” as early counting showed Labor had held onto its primary vote.

There was a swing to the Liberal party (3.74 per cent) which was attributed to voters who had been alienated by Scott Morrison returning, plus the non-presence of One Nation and the United Australia Party.

With more than 70 per cent counted on Saturday night, Belyea led the Liberal Party’s Nathan Conroy 52.5 per cent to 47.5 per cent two party-preferred, according to the ABC.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said there were “many messages” in Saturday’s result which came amid a cost-of-living crisis and the ALP’s tax cuts promise.

“I want to assure every Australian that we will examine this closely and understand every message that is there,” he said.

Albanese joined Belyea at a polling station on Saturday, his 61st birthday.

“What I want for my birthday is obvious today, which is a win for Jodie Belyea,” Albanese told reporters.

The prime minister got his wish as Frankston Mayor Nathan Conroy was unsuccessful in securing the seat for the Liberals.

The byelection for seat in Melbourne’s southeast was triggered by the death of MP Peta Murphy in December.

Albanese said Murphy had recruited Belyea to the party in recognition of her integrity and passion.

“I know Jodie will build on Peta’s legacy,” he said.

Belyea introduced herself to cheering supporters as a “rookie”.

“I am not a career politician, I’m someone who wants to make a difference for this great community and further afield, and I’m now going to be your strong local voice in Canberra,” she said.

Belyea also paid tribute to Murphy as “a fierce advocate for our community”, while Marles said “I know that the person with the biggest smile on her face tonight is Peta Murphy”.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton had previously said any swing more than three per cent against the government would be a “terrible outcome” for the prime minister.

Liberal senator Jane Hume praised Conroy for his efforts on Saturday night.

“Dunkley was never a marginal seat … but by hell it’s a marginal seat now,” Hume told the party faithful.

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said the result sent a message to the prime minister.

“It’s not happy birthday. It’s ‘do something about the cost of living crisis’. That’s the message the people of Dunkley have sent to this prime minister,” she said.

-with AAP

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