Liberal John Pesutto pulls ahead of teal in Hawthorn as postal votes go his way

Liberal John Pesutto pulls ahead of teal in Hawthorn as postal votes go his way

Victorian election 2022

Liberal John Pesutto has edged ahead of teal candidate Melissa Lowe in the ultra-marginal seat of Hawthorn, as the counting of postal votes put him 383 votes ahead, with 71 per cent of the vote counted.

The Victorian Electoral Commission will begin counting votes again in the seat at 8am on Sunday.

John Pesutto on Saturday night.Credit:Scott McNaughton

Pesutto, who has campaigned for a year to regain the seat after a shock loss in 2018, was with supporters on Saturday night at the Glenferrie Hotel. The former MP declined to talk to The Age, saying he wanted to see more votes come in before discussing what had happened in the seat.

The 52-year-old has long been touted as a future leader of the state Liberal Party and, if he does manage to take back the seat, would be in contention to take over from Matthew Guy after his second loss as opposition leader on Saturday night.

Pesutto has consistently said he would like to take a leadership role in some form should he win back Hawthorn, which he held from 2014 to 2018.

Speaking from her Glenferrie Road campaign headquarters on Saturday night when the vote count showed she had a 3 percentage point lead, Lowe said that if she did win, it would be because of the effort of the community in the area.

Melissa Lowe hugs a supporter on Saturday night.Credit:Scott McNaughton

“We have worked hard to activate democracy, and we’ve put things like the logging of native forests and integrity on the agenda,” said Lowe. She began campaigning in September, soon after independent Monique Ryan had taken Kooyong, the federal seat that covers the area, at May’s national election.

If Lowe does win, she will be the first woman to hold the seat in its 133-year history.

But Pesutto’s campaign team expect that a significant number of pre-poll votes will flow to him. A count of 3000 postal votes on Saturday night were, on a two-party preferred basis, flowing to Pesutto almost two to one.

Sitting Labor MP John Kennedy won 21 per cent of the primary vote, and the Greens gained 10 per cent – well down on the 18 per cent they picked up in the seat at the last poll. The bulk of both their preferences appeared to flow to Lowe.

Pesutto has spent the past 12 months campaigning to win the seat, estimating on Friday that he and his team had door-knocked 80 per cent of homes in the seat of 50,000 voters. His campaign team late on Saturday night did not concede defeat, saying the seat was still too close to call.

Labor, the Liberals and Lowe’s campaign director agreed that, with more than half of the votes delivered at pre-poll booths and by post before Saturday, early voting in the seat would likely lean toward the Liberal Party.

In 2018 Labor’s Kennedy shocked even himself when he won Hawthorn – not held by Labor since the 1950s – by just 330 votes.

Labor MP John Kennedy at this Hawthorn polling booth. 26 November 2022. Credit:Eddie Jim

Kennedy handed out how-to-vote cards until the last minute at Hawthorn Town Hall and was watching early results come in at home before heading to his function at a function centre in a Hawthorn park.

Go here for the latest election results, live tracker, news headlines, updates and analysis

Most Viewed in Politics

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article