Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has labelled the Coalition the “Eeyores” of politics and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton the “angry Eeyore” but conceded the Liberals should comfortably win the Aston by-election following a “massive” swing against Labor.
The by-election in Melbourne’s outer-east will take place on Saturday after the Liberal Party’s MP since 2010 Alan Tudge resigned from Parliament last month.
Labor won Aston when it was first created in 1984 and again in 1987 but ever since 1990 the electorate has been in the hands of the Liberals, currently on a 2.8 per cent margin.
The Liberal Party have chosen Roshena Campbell as its candidate, while Labor is pinning its hopes on Mary Doyle who took on Mr Tudge at the 2022 Federal Election.
Labor experienced a swing to it of 7.3 per cent at that election, after Mr Tudge’s primary vote fell by 11.6 per cent.
The by-election is the first occasion since last May voters will be able to cast their verdict on the Liberal leadership of Peter Dutton and the government’s performance.
Asked at a press conference in Brisbane on Friday whether Labor’s failure to snatch the seat from the opposition would be a vote of no confidence in the government, Mr Albanese downplayed his party’s chances.
He anticipated the Liberal Party’s margin should blow out to almost 10 per cent.
“If the Liberals should retain Aston with a massive majority, everything points towards that,” the Prime Minister said.
“There has not been a government win a seat off the opposition in any by-election for more than 100 years.
“So what my government is doing is, we’re getting on with the job.
“All of the expectations are of course that the opposition should retain Aston and they should retain Aston with an increase of at least five to six per cent.”
Mr Albanese said despite it being clear Aston has been “a very safe Liberal Party seat”, he outlined why Labor was “having a crack” at the by-election.
“We’re giving the people of Aston a choice because we think that the Liberal Party in Victoria are a mess. Federally, they just sit there and vote no to everything,” he said.
“I mean they’re the Eeyores of Australian politics. And Peter Dutton is the angry Eeyore. Just sits there, woe is me, the sky’s falling in.
“No wonder they don’t support solar energy because they think the sky’s falling in all the time.”
Mr Dutton, who was alongside Ms Campbell in Aston on Friday, said the by-election was a chance to send a message to the government.
“Every decision that Labor has taken economically over the course of the last 10 months has driven up the cost of living pressures on families and on small businesses,” he said.
“There is an opportunity here in Aston to send a message to Labor that it’s just not good enough that the cost of living pressures continue to go up and up.
“And Labor’s policies, which are inflationary, feeds an increase in interest rates and families are paying that through their mortgages each month.”
He said Ms Campbell, who has faced criticism for being from outside the electorate, “has the credentials to work hard here on her community’s behalf”.
“This by-election is an opportunity to put a strong local candidate in Roshena Campbell into the Federal Parliament,” Mr Dutton said.
“But it is also an important opportunity to send Labor a message, that people just can’t continue to pay the increasing bills under Labor.”