Dunkley by-election: Anthony Albanese is granted his birthday wish as Labor retain seat in crucial poll

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s birthday wish has come true as Labor is expected to retain its seat following a by-election in Melbourne’s Dunkley electorate triggered by the death of MP Peta Murphy.

ABC election analyst Antony Green called the seat at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday with 59 percent of the votes counted.

Both Labor and the Liberals tempered expectations of a vote victory after Ms Murphy lost her battle with cancer in December.

Community leader Jodie Belyea retained the seat from Labour, despite a swing in the seat. Ms Murphy maintained a margin of 6.3 per cent.

Anthony Albanese’s birthday wish has come true as Labor retains a crucial seat after a by-election in Melbourne’s Dunkley electorate (the Prime Minister is pictured with candidate Jodie Belyea)

Labor supporters celebrate in Frankston as the announcement is made

Labor supporters celebrate in Frankston as the announcement is made

The opposition pinned its hopes on Frankston City Council mayoral candidate Nathan Conroy, who would run for the Liberal Party, but the 3.8 percent he managed was not enough to secure the seat.

Mr Albanese showed up at a polling station early on Saturday, on his 61st birthday, with Ms Belyea and his fiancée, Jodie Haydon.

“What I want for my birthday is clear today, which is a win for Jodie Belyea,” Albanese told reporters.

The cost of living has been at the heart of the campaign, with Mr Albanese advocating greater tax cuts for lower and middle income earners under the government’s revamped tax package.

On Saturday he claimed opponents had outspent Labor in the run-up to the by-election, which he described as a “negative right-wing campaign” fueled by money from unnamed billionaires.

“We’ve seen people in this electorate flooded with Facebook and all the ads that were created with misinformation and with fear,” Albanese said.

Ms. Belyea vowed to “fight for the fighters” as she discussed her connections to the community.

Liberal Senator Jane Hume praised Mr Conroy for his efforts on Saturday evening.

“Dunkley was never a marginal seat… but it is now a marginal seat,” Ms Hume said.

She previously joined Conroy at a polling booth at a Langwarrin primary school for a media conference that was regularly interrupted by hecklers.

“We don’t shout people down,” Conroy said when a protester interrupted him.

‘What we do have is a strong positive campaign.’

Mr Conroy said rising costs of living are the main issue facing voters, while also driving investment in local infrastructure.

‘We need more jobs, more business, more choice and more homes for people. Then you look at the crime. “Crime is on the rise and that’s because of the housing crisis and the cost of living crisis,” he said.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton did not appear on Saturday but has previously said that while the vote will not change the government, it could send a message to the prime minister that he was not doing enough.

He said a swing of more than three percent against the government would be a terrible outcome for Mr Albanese.