Liberal Party of Australia win Bradfield, Higgins by-elections

Sunday, December 6, 2009

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Tony Abbott became Liberal Party leader during the campaign
Image: Dimensional dan.
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The Liberal Party have retained both the Bradfield and Higgins seats in the Australian House of Representatives, despite some predicting a voter backlash after their recent leadership change and splits over environmental policy.

The seats were previously held by former Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson and former Treasurer Peter Costello, respectively.


In Higgins the victorious candidate was Kelly O'Dwyer. Ten candidates contested this by-election, though the governing Labor Party did not field a candidate.

"I think it sends a clear message to Kevin Rudd that they cannot take their voters for granted," she said. "Their voters will come to the Liberal Party if given an opportunity."

Green candidate Dr Clive Hamilton was also happy with the result. "The Greens have achieved a vote of 35 per cent or so, which is easily the highest vote the Greens have scored in a House of Representatives election," Dr Hamilton said. "That means about a quarter of the voters of Higgins who once voted Labor or Liberal have decided to trust their vote to the Greens."

Hamilton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Ms O'Dwyer "will toe the party line on climate change."

"I think Kelly O'Dwyer will fit in perfectly well with Tony Abbott's sceptical Liberal party," he said. "I don't think she will really take the climate change message to Higgins, so effectively 35 per cent of her voters are completely disenfranchised on the most important issue that concerns them."


The victorious candidate in Bradfield was Paul Fletcher. 22 candidates contested this by-election, again without one from Labor.

"My experience as I talked to people during the campaign was that people were concerned about private health insurance, overdevelopment, economic management and so on," Fletcher, a former Optus executive, said. "Climate change came up as an issue, but it wasn't the number one issue. Certainly the Liberal Party needs to have a response on climate change as our leader Tony Abbott has said. But it is not the only issue to campaign on."