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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The March 2 byelection in the outer suburban Melbourne seat of Dunkley is the third byelection this term but the first in a Labor-held electorate. It has been caused by the death late last year of Peta Murphy, after a long battle with cancer.

Labor’s margin sits at 6.3% in Dunkley, an electorate that has swung between the major parties.

Labor goes into the byelection as the favourite, as it seeks to sell its changes to the Stage 3 tax cuts. Most voters will be better off under the new package than they would have under the original version, although there will be some losers.

Labor’s candidate is Jodie Belyea, from Frankston, who has extensive experience working in the not-for-profit sector. The Liberals are fielding the Mayor of Frankston, Nathan Conroy.

To talk about the byelection, we are joined by the ABC’s election analyst Antony Green, Kos Samaras from the RedBridge Group, which has conducted research in Dunkley, and Tim Costello, former CEO of World Vision Australia and a Dunkley resident.

There are several measures of swing that can be used for byelections, and participants often adopt whichever suits them. Green says:

The best measure in the end is the average swing of about three and a half to four percent [against a government]. That’s the swing since Federation.

How is the government’s recently-announced reworked tax package going down in Dunkley? Drawing on the focus group RedBridge ran this week, Samaras says:

When it comes to the tax cuts announcement made by the Albanese government [it’s] welcomed but [has] not much of an impact in terms of alleviating some of these some of these […] financial problems. […] Their problem is in the hundreds of dollars every week not in the tens.

On voter engagement in Dunkley Samaras finds little interest:

I think the overwhelming sense is that they’re sick of getting mail in the letterbox and their YouTube feed being riddled with advertisements, and it’s annoying them. It’s perhaps a message to the political class out there.

As a resident observer, Costello says Belyea is

doing very well, particularly with women. There’s a lot of women in the area who’ve known her work. […] But it’s a big step up to federal politics when you haven’t been involved.

Conroy is

a very good campaigner. He is very slick and everywhere. And that ‘send Labor a message’ I think is cutting through.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Politics with Michelle Grattan: Antony Green, Kos Samaras and Tim Costello on Dunkley contest –