Labor candidate Kristy McBain looks poised to take out the bellweather seat of Eden Monaro in one of the most hotly contested by-elections in decades.
However, Labor is still yet to claim victory this morning.
The latest figures from the Australian Electoral Commission put Ms McBain with 51.04 percent of the vote with preferences and the Liberal Party’s Fiona Kotvojs with 48.96 percent.
While Labor’s primary vote was down on last year, it appeared the results would be enough to get Ms McBain over the line with preferences, Nine’s political reporter Fiona Willan said.
“This has been an electoral test for both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader,” Willan said.
“For Anthony Albanese it’s the first time that he’s faced a ballot since becoming Opposition Leader while for the Prime Minister it’s the first one he’s faced since the pandemic and the bushfires.”
History was always on Labor’s side – a government hasn’t claimed a seat from an opposition in a by-election in 100 years.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant there have been a lot more pre-poll and postal ballots than usual, accounting for over 60,000 votes or more than half the 114,000 eligible voters. As a consequence, ballot counting is anticipated to take longer than usual.
From 1972 until 2016, Eden-Monaro has served as Australia’s bellwether seat; that is, the party that wins this electorate, wins the election.