Former rugby union star David Pocock is poised to become the first territory senator from a minor party.
- ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja is set to lose to independent David Pocock
- Katy Gallagher is almost certainly re-elected despite Labor’s Senate vote falling to a historic low
- The ACT’s three federal Labor MPs were all re-elected with increased margins
Mr Pocock, a conservationist and former Wallabies captain, secured a strong vote in the federal election after his high-profile ACT Senate campaign.
He is now on the verge of unseating Liberal senator Zed Seselja, while Labor’s finance spokeswoman Katy Gallagher is set to retain her seat.
However, the results remain unconfirmed, as Senate preference votes were not counted last night.
Before this election, Labor and the Coalition had held every ACT and Northern Territory Senate seat in history.
The 2022 ACT Senate vote may also make history by being the first in which a Labor candidate fails to be elected on first-preference votes.
In territory elections, candidates need a quota of one-third of all votes plus one vote — about 33.3 per cent of votes — to win a Senate seat.
As of late last night, Labor’s combined vote was 33.2 per cent — its lowest ever tally, but almost certainly enough to secure Senator Gallagher’s re-election.
The Liberal vote had fallen 9 percentage points to 23.4 per cent, while Mr Pocock has secured 22.1 per cent.
These results are provisional and will change as the count progresses.
While Senator Seselja is currently ahead, most minor parties have urged their supporters to back Mr Pocock over Senator Seselja, leaving the prospect of a Liberal victory unlikely.
Pocock pledges action on climate, integrity, poverty and women’s rights
Mr Pocock announced his candidacy six months ago and attracted the support of the progressive lobby group Climate 200, which helped fund the so-called “teal” independents.
He soon had the support of more than 2,200 volunteers, rivaling the main parties, and was one of the most visible ACT candidates during the campaign.
In recent weeks, the prospect of his election sparked a strong response from both main parties, both of which had never previously come to losing a Senate seat.
At a rowdy celebration in the city last night, Mr Pocock thanked his supporters but stopped short of claiming victory.
He said he would continue to press for greater integrity in federal politics, lower living costs for poorer Canberrans, and a safer community for women.
“And, after a lost decade of denial and delay, it’s clear we have to get on with climate action and play our part,” he added.
“We have to do what’s good for our future and we have to do it in a way that everyday Australians benefit from.”
Labor strengthens grip on all ACT lower-house electors
In Belconnen, Labor supporters gathered to celebrate four local victories and the election of an Anthony Albanese-led government.
Labor retained all three of its lower-house seats in the ACT, securing favorable swings in each electorate.
David Smith retains the southern seat of Bean with 62.3 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote.
In the central electorate of Canberra, the Liberal vote collapsed 8 percentage points, leaving it lagging behind the Greens and Labor’s Alicia Payne was returned with a 58.7 per cent win over the Greens’ Tim Hollo on a two-party-preferred basis.
Meanwhile, Andrew Leigh won his fifth term, with a two-party-preferred result of 65.8 per cent in the northern seat of Fenner.
At the celebration last night, Dr Leigh said Labor had never taken its ACT seats for granted.
Dr Leigh added that the re-election of Senator Gallagher meant Australia would soon have its first finance minister from the ACT.
“Katy Gallagher will be thinking about the interests of the ACT as she sits down to put together with a budget [Labor shadow treasurer] Jim Chalmers,” he said.
“That going to be enormously valuable for the ACT.”
Meanwhile, in the bordering New South Wales electorate of Eden-Monaro, which includes the towns of Queanbeyan, Yass and Bega, Labor MP Kristy McBain was re-elected with a strong swing in her favor of 7.6 percentage points.
Senator Seselja was unavailable for comment last night.
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