Labor has won all four of the Super Saturday by-election seats it contested and increased its margin considerably in the key Queensland electorate of Longman.
The victories are sure to buoy Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s hopes of federal election victory after pollsters predicted much closer contests in the Qld seat and the western Tasmanian electorate of Braddon.
Incumbent ALP candidate for Longman Susan Lamb increased what was a precariously thin margin to about 4 per cent, while in Braddon, Justine Keay maintained her 2 per cent lead on a two-party preferred basis.
The Western Australian seats of Perth and Fremantle were won easily by Labor. The Greens were their nearest rivals in those seats with the Liberals declining to field candidates.
The only other seat to host a by-election on Saturday was the South Australian electorate of Mayo.
In that seat, Centre Alliance (formerly Nick Xenophon Team) candidate Rebekha Sharkie easily defeated Liberal candidate Georgina Downer.
Before the dual citizenship status of several MPs triggered Saturday’s wave of by-elections, Labor held all four of the seats it contested.
Speaking in Longman, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was urging supporters to begin a two-day celebration of the “four from four” victory.
“What a great night for the Labor Party,” he said. “What a great night for Labor women. Actually, what a Super Saturday night it is.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull did not address the public on Saturday.
Pauline Hanson’s decision to direct the preferences of One Nation voters to the Liberal Party was expected to be influential, but the size of the swing towards Labor’s Susan Lamb was enough to put the seat out of reach of Liberal candidate Trevor Ruthenberg.
Ms Lamb looked set to win 55.4–44.6 on a two-party preferred basis.
On Saturday morning, Newspoll put Labor ahead 51-49 in Longman, while earlier in the week, the same poll had Mr Ruthenberg ahead by the same margin.
The Liberal candidate suffered a body blow to his campaign when he was forced to admit he had falsely claimed ownership of an Australian Service Medal.
In an emotional concession speech, Mr Ruthenberg said he was proud of the campaign he ran.
Labor candidate Justine Keay maintained Labor’s margin in the western Tasmanian seat of Braddon.
With more than three-quarters of the vote counted, she was ahead of Liberal candidate Brett Whiteley 52-48, according to Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) projections.
Newspoll had predicted a 51-49 result for Labor going into Saturday’s by-election.
In the South Australian seat of Mayo, Liberal candidate Ms Downer suffered a big loss to Centre Alliance (formerly Nick Xenophon Team) candidate Ms Sharkie.
Ms Sharkie was on track to almost double her previous margin of almost 5 per cent in that seat.
Addressing her supporters, Ms Downer, the daughter of former Liberal leader and foreign minister Alexander Downer, said by-elections were always tough for the governing party.
Perth and Fremantle
Both WA seats are expected to be won easily by Labor, with the Liberal Party declining to field candidates.
The Greens are Labor’s strongest rival in the seats.
Labor candidates Patrick Gorman and Josh Wilson were comfortably ahead in the seats of Perth and Fremantle respectively.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten all but claimed the seats after only an hour of vote counting in WA.