Mary Doyle

The Aston April 1st (perhaps an omen date) by-election is over, with a dramatic, un-forecast swing against the Liberal Party of 6.5%, causing the seat to be won by Labor’s Mary Doyle.

Mary had, at the last 2022 election, reduced the sitting Liberal Alan Tudge’s majority at the time of nearly 11% by a whopping 7.5%, down to just 2.8%, and now the seat has been lost completely. 

As the media broadcast loudly, this is the first time an elected federal government in Australia has won a by-election in over 100 years. 

  • Major party candidates were all fully supported by their parties and leaders in the campaigning. PM Albanese for Doyle, Dutton, Sukkar and Paterson for Campbell, so there were no excuses about being short of funding, resources or profile. 
  • Labor and Independent candidates were the major beneficiaries of the swing, with the Greens’ vote down.

Aston 2PP Graph

Aston 2PP Results

Source: AEC

ABC Friends was well involved in the by-election campaigning, at national, state and local group levels. Our local members displayed banners on highways, handed out flyers at railway stations, and talked to voters about the need for their local member to be pro-ABC. We complemented the on-ground campaign with social media messages, targeted and boosted into the electorate on Facebook. 

Why did this extraordinary turnover happen, and what does it mean looking ahead? 

Well, the political analysts have put forward many reasons for the result, and as usual there is no single cause, however some things are clear: 

  • The Tudge factor – The previous sitting Liberal MP Alan Tudge announced his retirement in February 2023 after a string of controversies. The Aston electorate may have felt betrayed. 
  • The Time factor - Liberal Party candidate Roshena Campbell, although an impressive professional female, was parachuted into the candidacy with little more than a month to make an impression. 
  • The Troubles factor - After recent revelations about Morrison’s secret conduct in adopting multiple ministries whilst still PM, the on-going bad publicity from the Robodebt Royal Commission, and the current negative Liberal response to the ‘Voice’ referendum, formal Liberal strategist and pollster Tony Barry told the ABC coverage that what was coming out of the research was concerns that the Liberal Party was “nasty”. 
  • The Touch factor - Additionally, pre-election polling revealed that the electorate was concerned about significant issues where the Liberals were perceived to, at best, not done enough, and were continuing to disappoint – cost of living, housing, climate change, health, education, and of course public broadcasting. Many analysts have claimed the Liberals are seen as ‘out-of-touch’ with the demands of the Australian electorate. 

So, what does the result mean? 

The major outcomes from the by-election are an increasing sense of worry and disunity within the Liberals, and an increased sense of confidence within Labor. 

Labor, encouraged by the result, has marched ahead with its relatively modest set of policy priorities, and a slightly increased willingness to accept risk.  

We will now see what the May budget brings, especially for ABC funding. 

Phil Evans


Director of Rhizomatic. Since 2019, Phil has been the NationBuilder Administrator for ABC Friends.