Labor has narrowly avoided further eroding its dwindling number of Queensland seats after claiming victory in Lilley, a seat formerly held by retiring MP Wayne Swan.
Labor’s first-time candidate, Anika Wells, waved at peak-hour drivers on busy Sandgate Road on Monday morning to thank voters for their support, which helped her narrowly win the seat in Brisbane’s north.
“We didn’t take this for granted for a single hour, and it turns out every single hour mattered,” she said.
While the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is yet to officially declare the Labor victory, the ABC’s election computer classified the seat as an “ALP retain” on the weekend.
With 86 per cent of the seat counted, Ms Wells is ahead of the Liberal National Party’s Brad Carswell by 901 votes on two-party preferred.
A result that close would reduce the seat’s margin from 5.7 per cent to about 1 per cent.
Other seats still in doubt are WA’s Cowan, where the ALP’s Anne Aly is ahead of the Liberals’ Isaac Stewart and fighting to hold on, and Macquarie in NSW where the ALP’s Susan Templeman looks like losing to the Liberal Party’s Sarah Richardson.
Ms Wells said she was confident in the numbers after the ABC declared Lilley for the ALP.
“We’ve treated this like a marginal seat for the 13 months that I’ve been the endorsed candidate.”
The former lawyer said while she focused on a grassroots, local campaign, the LNP’s landslide victory in Queensland was concerning.
“There are broader things for us to look into as a party now as we assess what happened,” she said.
Securing funding for local schools and hospitals was a big part of Ms Wells’ campaign.
She said she saw first-hand the faults in the public health system, when she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease during her pregnancy.
“My task is to advocate for those things again to make sure that we are still able to raise our kids on the northside,” she said.
Local Rob Jones said he was impressed with the campaign put up by the Labor candidate.
“I was surprised that there was a swing against her so much,” he said.
Ed Byrne also lives in the electorate and said a lot of his neighbours were swayed by the major party leaders.
“I think it’s much of a muchness between Liberal and Labor at the moment. I think a lot of it comes down to personality with the voters,” he said.
Ms Wells joked she would be working off her back deck and “hitting the ground running” talking with her constituents until she could move into her electorate office.
“I’m sure people have a lot of thoughts on what’s happened and I need to hear them, so that’s what I’ll be doing,” she said.
Former deputy prime minister Wayne Swan had held the seat since 1998, after a previous term from 1993 to 1996.