ACT News


ACT returns Labor members as Liberal cuts sway voters

FRASER MP Andrew Leigh has blamed a sense of "reform fatigue'' by voters for Labor's election defeat, comparing the Rudd and Gillard administrations to the Whitlam government.

Dr Leigh was comfortably re-elected as MP for the northern Canberra seat.

The professor of economics was the first federal candidate at the ALP's election gathering at the National Press Club, where he said the party could have done a better job at selling its achievements to the public.

''We clearly could have sold [our reforms] better - much like the Whitlam government, we chose to do an awful lot and I think that meant that voters had some sense of reform fatigue after our six years,'' he said.

"For Labor in opposition it's important that we take pride in our achievements, I don't find much to fault in the policy decisions, getting us through the global financial crisis, disability care, better schools and the seat on the UN security council.''

Dr Leigh said a failure to sell the government's reforms, destabilisation due to the minority government and internal disunity did not help the party's electoral cause.


He refused, however, to lay individual blame for the loss.

"Politics is a team sport - the team can take credit for the achievements, and blame for the loss," Dr Leigh said.

With 42 per cent of the vote counted, there appeared to have been a small swing to the Liberals on a two-party preferred basis.

Dr Leigh had close to 46 per cent of the vote, Liberal Elizabeth Lee 30 per cent and the Greens candidate Adam Verwey 14 per cent.

The Bullet Train for Australia had 4 per cent of the vote and the Palmer United Party 2 per cent.

On a two-party-preferred basis this would represent about a 1 per cent swing to the Liberals.

"The challenge for Labor in opposition is to hold Mr Abbott to account on his claim there would be only 12,000 public service jobs, to be cut by attrition," Dr Leigh said.

Labor has held Fraser since the electorate was created in 1974.

Liberal candidate Elizabeth Lee, a University of Canberra law lecturer, thanked her volunteer team on Saturday night.

She said her two campaigns would have been impossible without a large team of volunteers, including her parents John and Cecilia Lee.

"They just came on board and as soon I said 'I want to do it' there were no questions asked,'' Ms Lee said.

"Even though it's family, that's difficult to do. I think my parents haven't had a proper weekend in quite a while.''

Ms Lee was joined at the Liberal election night party at the Hotel Realm by her parents and dozens of Korean-Australian supporters.

Dr Leigh was first elected as the electorate's MP in 2010 after former minister Bob McMullan retired.

He served as parliamentary secretary to prime minister Julia Gillard but returned to the backbench after Kevin Rudd returned to the party leadership.