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Jodie Belyea retains the seat of Dunkley for Labor but voters send Anthony Albanese a ‘strong message’

Ellen RansleyNCA NewsWire
Peta Murphy, the previous member for Dunkley, died from breast cancer last December. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Camera IconPeta Murphy, the previous member for Dunkley, died from breast cancer last December. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese may have gotten his birthday wish, but the Liberal Party say they’ve sent him a message.

Mr “second favourite Jodie”, Frankston mother Jodie Belyea, clinched the win at the Dunkley by-election on Saturday night, claiming the win about 9pm.

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said Labor may have kept the seat, but the swing against the government showed Dunkley had sent Mr Albanese a “strong message”.

“And it’s not happy birthday, it’s do something about the cost of living crisis,” Ms Ley said.

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“That’s the message the people of Dunkley have sent to this prime minister.”

The by-election followed the death of popular Labor MP Peta Murphy from breast cancer in December last year. Ms Murphy took the seat of the Liberals with a 6.3 per cent margin at the 2022 election.

By the time Liberal candidate Nathan Conroy conceded at 9pm on Saturday, Sky News projected a swing towards him 3.8 per cent.

LABOR VOTING FRANKSTON
Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese and his fiancee Jodie Haydon campaigned with Labor candidate Jodie Belyea at Derinya Primary School in Frankston South. NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie Credit: News Corp Australia

Addressing the party faithful in Frankston, Mr Conroy invoked former US First Lady Michelle Obama, saying “when they go low, we go high”.

“Although the result didn’t go our way tonight, it is a great opportunity to highlight the big swing that we had… next election, we are coming for Albanese and his government,” he said.

Mr Conroy said he and the Liberal Party had “left it all on the field”.

Ms Ley paid tribute to Mr Conroy.

Liberal candidate Nathan Conroy said Dunkley had sent Anthony Albanese a strong message. ABC
Camera IconLiberal candidate Nathan Conroy said Dunkley had sent Anthony Albanese a strong message. ABC Credit: Supplied

“You have climbed every mountain, you are a class act. You have done Dunkley proud,” she said.

“You have done extraordinarily well.”

It wasn’t all bad news for Mr Conroy, sharing with the crowd he and his wife were expecting a second child.

“I don’t know when I had the time to do it, but I did it,” he said.

Mr Albanese, in Sydney to celebrate his birthday, called Ms Belyea to congratulate her before taking to X to share a public message.

“Jodie ran a strong and positive campaign, and she’ll work hard every day as a champion for Dunkley in Canberra,” he said.

Labor’s Jodie Belyea thanked her supporters and paid tribute to the late Peta Murphy as she celebrated her win. ABC
Camera IconLabor’s Jodie Belyea thanked her supporters and paid tribute to the late Peta Murphy as she celebrated her win. ABC Credit: Supplied

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles introduced Ms Belyea to Labor Party faithful in Dunkley, paying tribute to the late Ms Murphy and celebrating the win.

“Everybody in this room tonight has a right to feel incredibly proud of all that you have achieved,” Mr Marles.

“Every time there is an election, the Australian people speak, and there are many messages in the result tonight, and I want to assure every Australian that we will examine this closely and understand every message that is there.

“Tonight is a big night for our Prime Minister, who took every opportunity to be here at every moment that he could during this campaign.”

Ms Belyea said she was “humbled” to follow in Ms Murphy’s footsteps, and build on her “remarkable legacy”.

“I am humbled to have the opportunity to follow in Peta Murphy’s footsteps and to build on her remarkable legacy,” she said, thanking Ms Murphy’s husband Rod Glover for supporting her campaign.

Ms Belyea thanked her supporters for their help. ABC
Camera IconMs Belyea thanked her supporters for their help. ABC Credit: Supplied

She said she would focus on cost of living as the new Dunkley MP, and thanked Mr Albanese for his support.

“I’m so thankful for the support of the Prime Minister, who put so much faith in me, a rookie.

“I spoke to him a short time ago, and I am now officially the second most important Jodie in Albo’s life.”

National president of the Labor Party, Wayne Swan, said the party’s victory reflected “a community hunger for leaders to bring Australia together, supporting a people under financial pressure while rejecting the politics of division over climate, race and gender”.

LABOR VOTING FRANKSTON
Camera IconLabor candidate Jodie Belyea casts her vote at Derinya Primary School in Frankston South on Saturday. NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie Credit: News Corp Australia
PETA MURPHY PRESSER
Camera IconPeta Murphy, the previous member for Dunkley, died from breast cancer last December. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

By the time counting stopped on Saturday night, Ms Belyea had a projected 52.27 per cent of the two-party preferred, to Mr Conroy’s 47.73 per cent.

The primary vote for the Greens was down in the by-election, receiving 6.5 per cent of the votes as of Saturday night - down 3.96 percentage points.

The United Australia Party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, the Liberal Democratic Party, and the Australian Federation Party did not put forward candidates for the by-election, with analysts predicting the 10 per cent of the vote shared between those four parties going to the Liberal Party instead.

Of the more than 113,000 people enrolled to vote in the seat, at least 22,150 people had voted early and 21,900 had applied for a postal vote, the Australian Electoral Commission said.

Mr Albanese had earlier referred to the by-election as the one “no one wanted”, having been brought about by the death of his friend Ms Murphy.

“We’ve put forward, I think, very clearly the best candidate in Jodie Belyea who will carry on the work of the magnificent Peta Murphy,” he said.

LABOR VOTING FRANKSTON
Camera IconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese had said he was expecting a big swing in the by-election. NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie Credit: News Corp Australia

The by-election had been viewed as a litmus test for the government’s policies to address cost of living issues and Mr Albanese’s credibility following his broken promise on stage 3 tax cuts.

The government took every opportunity to promote how its revamped stage 3 tax cuts, which passed the parliament on Tuesday and come into effect on July 1, would help more people than the Coalition’s legislated plan which he had promised numerous times not to change.

The seat of Dunkley, the third to go to a by-election since the May 2022 election, is seen as representative of more than a dozen other Middle Australia seats across the country that will decide the 2025 election, and the result will be closely analysed.

Originally published as Jodie Belyea retains the seat of Dunkley for Labor but voters send Anthony Albanese a ‘strong message’

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