Australia's Albanese govt becomes first to take seat outside national election

Australia's Albanese govt becomes first to take seat outside national election

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese won a historic victory at a by-election in the state of Victoria, becoming the first government in more than 100 years to take a district off the opposition outside a national election.

According to Australian Broadcasting Corp. projections, Mary Doyle, the candidate of the ruling Labor party, was set to win the district of Aston in eastern Melbourne. The victory bolsters Albanese parliamentary majority and confirms his popularity after 10 months in office amid rising interest rates and inflation.

Albanese government holds 78 districts in the 151-member House of Representatives after the Aston win. The result comes a week after Labor won an election in New South Wales, the most populous state, so the center-left now controls all seven state and territory governments on Australia's mainland. Only the southern island state of Tasmania has a center-right government.

A by-election is a vote to fill a vacancy caused by the departure of a lawmaker outside a general election, with Saturday s ballot triggered by former minister Alan Tudge s resignation from parliament. No government has won a seat off an opposition party since 1920, and it was expected that the center-right Liberal Party would narrowly retain the district ahead of the vote.

The loss is likely to spark questions about the performance of the Liberal Party leader and former defence minister Peter Dutton after less than a year in office. Dutton has always stayed in the script of an opposition leader and has always rejected government policies, including increased action on climate change.