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Both sides claim underdog status as clock ticks down for Dunkley by-election

Someone will be sent a message after the Dunkley byelection.

Someone will be sent a message after the Dunkley byelection. Photo: TND

Candidates in federal Dunkley by-election are making their final pitches to voters as the Albanese government confronts a ballot-box litmus test.

The electorate, located in Melbourne’s southeast will go to a by-election on Saturday after Labor MP Peta Murphy died in December following a battle with breast cancer.

Labor holds the seat with a 6.3 per cent margin, but during by-elections, the swing in government-held seats is generally around seven per cent, putting the electorate within reach for the Liberal Party.

Standing alongside Labor candidate Jodie Belyea, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese acknowledged the difficulty of the battle.

“We know that it’s a tough fight,” he told Seven’s Sunrise from Frankston on Sunday. “But we’ve got the best candidate for this seat.

‘Peta Murphy’s legacy’

“Jodie will be that and … there’s lots of volunteers out here who want to make sure that Peta Murphy’s legacy is carried on in this fantastic community.”

But the by-election will not be a cakewalk for the Coalition either, opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said.

“There’s been some disingenuous expectation,” he told Sky News. “This is a tough by-election for the Liberal Party.”

Senator Paterson said the swing expected in Dunkley had been overstated.

When a former MP dies, voters are less likely to aim their ire at the government.

“I’ve been on the pre poll booths in Dunkley, there’s no anger towards the government for this by election, which is obviously understandable,” Senator Paterson said.

Tax-cut change welcomed

“That’s not what I’ve experienced in other by-elections where a member has resigned or retired early – where there is often anger at the very existence of the by election.

“I think we’ll get a strong swing, but it will be an extraordinary thing to get a swing of more than 6.3 per cent and win the seat.”

A community advocate, Ms Belyea is going head-to-head with Liberal candidate and local mayor Nathan Conroy.

With pre-polling already underway, voters have begun making their opinions known but the Prime Minister remains confident his government’s much-discussed changes to tax cuts have been well-received.

“Every single taxpayer here … will receive a tax cut and that will make an enormous difference,” he said from the Dunkley electorate.

-AAP

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