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Aston by-election.

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On the basis of advice from the Australian Electoral Commission that with fewer than 600 votes left to be counted the Liberal candidate, Chris Pearce, is some 950 votes ahead it is reasonable that he claim victory in the Aston by election.

In congratulating Chris Pearce on his excellent campaign I thank the people of Aston for the continued support they have given to the government. Chris Pearce will be a strong and effective local member. He will represent the people of Aston with enormous commitment and dedication.

My thanks and congratulations are also due to the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party for such a good campaign in difficult circumstances. I particularly compliment the division’s new Director, Brian Loughnane, and those around him for the professional competence they displayed during the campaign.

Whilst I do not for a moment underestimate the challenge faced by the government when the federal election is held, victory in the Aston by-election gives Liberals all around Australia both heart and hope.

It is a better outcome for the Liberal Party than most predicted. The swing against the government is a little below the average for all by-elections and the result gives the lie to those who claim that there is an unstoppable momentum for a Labor victory in the general election. If he is honest with himself, Mr Beazley will know that he should have done better.

I thank all those who helped in Aston. I exhort Liberal and National Party supporters all around Australia to redouble their efforts over the remaining months of this year. The battle will be very tough - but with maximum effort we can win.

19 July 2001

19 July 2001

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