Prime Minister John Howard could be on track to become the first sitting PM since 1929 to lose his seat, with Labor challenger Maxine McKew ahead by more than 6 per cent after preferences with more than 9 per cent of the vote counted in Bennelong.
Deputy Labor leader Julia Gillard says the signs are good for Ms McKew but it is too early to call the result.
“I’m a very cautious sort and I always thought she was going to take it right down to the wire and I think we’ll see that tonight,” she said.
“It’s obviously a tough thing to do to unseat an incumbent prime minister, but one thing you can say about Maxine, there’s nothing that could’ve been done in that seat that hasn’t been done and been done well.
“And just on the question of people who used to be at the ABC, we have Mike Bailey running in North Sydney, now that requires a 10 per cent swing but we’re showing a 6 per cent swing there with 5 per cent counted.”
But Liberals Senator Nick Minchin is still predicting the swing to Labor in Bennelong will not be enough for Mr Howard to lose the seat to Ms McKew.
“I think we all admit that she’s a very good candidate,” he said. “She also has a very good campaign manager in [her partner] Bob Hogg who just happens to reside with her.
“I know Bob well and he’s a formidable campaigner. So John Howard and the rest of us know that he’s up against it with Maxine.
“I still think we’ll get there but we knew we were in for a fight.”
SOURCE : ABC ONLINE