PM slams ‘fear campaigns’ as leaders make final Dunkley pitches

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks in Dunkley on Friday morning.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks in Dunkley on Friday morning. Photo: AAP

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and opposition leader Peter Dutton are making their final pitches to voters ahead of Saturday’s crucial Dunkley byelection.

The byelection was triggered by the death of sitting Labor MP Peta Murphy, with the government running Murphy’s protégée Jodie Belyea as candidate and the Liberal Party choosing former mayor Nathan Conroy as its person to contest the seat.

Saturday’s vote will be a litmus test for both leaders, particularly after the Aston byelection saw Labor win the seat off the Liberal Party in 2023.

Labor held Dunkley with a 3.53 per cent swing after preferences at the last election.

Albanese was in Frankston in the seat of Dunkley on Friday morning, where he urged voters to back Labor.

“One of the differences between Jodie Belyea and the other candidates in this byelection is that she’ll be a voice in government,” the PM said. “Someone who can get things done as a voice in my government. Not just be another bloke, sitting behind all the other blokes … opposing everything, being negative about everything [and] running fear campaigns.”

‘Fear campaigns’

Albanese attacked deputy opposition leader Sussan Ley for a tweet that used a mistaken arrest of an immigration detainee as reason to vote for the Liberal candidate. Dutton also made similar attacks.

“I’m waiting for Peter Dutton to take responsibility for the debacle yesterday where he made completely false accusations against ministers,” Albanese told reporters.

“That’s what this is, an opportunity to send a message to Peter Dutton, they need to do better, they need to stop with the fear campaigns based upon half bits of information.

“Yesterday showed the problem – if you are just negative, if you just run fear campaigns [and] don’t worry about the facts, but you just shoot from the hip, get out there [and] run a fear campaign,” he said. “If you look at the questions that were asked in parliament yesterday, it says everything about the problem with this 24-hour news cycle, where you just have a fear campaign about everything and a solution for nothing.”

When called on to delete the post by a Labor minister, Ms Ley replied: “As a woman I am not taking a backward step on this and I’m calling it out.”

A number of the released foreigners from immigration detention are convicted murderers and sex offenders.

Dutton quells expectations

Dutton said on Friday despite the efforts of Liberal candidate Nathan Conroy, he expected a three per cent swing away from the government, which would still leave the seat in their possession.

“Despite Nathan’s great efforts and all the work of volunteers six per cent is a tough ask,” he told 2GB on Thursday.

“The prime minister is out there saying that the average swing in a by-election is seven per cent, you wouldn’t believe it, the prime minister may not be that truthful when he says that figure.”

Albanese paid tribute to the late-member Murphy on Friday also.

“Peta Murphy, one of the things that she did – an extraordinary act of selflessness – that said everything about who she was. She knew that she wasn’t well and recruited Jodie to the Labor party,” he said.

“She encouraged Jodie to stand as a candidate.

“We wish and this local community wishes that the byelection was not happening because Peta Murphy, at age 50, has gone from us far too soon. She had so much more to give, I have no doubt she would have been a future cabinet minister. An extraordinary capacity to deliver for this local community, to deliver on such a broad range of issues.”

– with AAP

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