Liberal candidate Heidi Harris has clawed back Labor opponent Nat Cook’s lead after counting of postal votes in the Fisher by-election.
Cook’s lead has been trimmed to 451 votes from more than 600 yesterday, after the Electoral Commission counted 1,217 postal votes today.
On a two party preferred basis, the Electoral Commission has Cook on 8,118 votes and Harris on 7,667.
The commission will count about 5,000 pre-poll votes tomorrow. About a quarter of the seat’s 25,000 electors cast pre-poll or postal votes.
The Liberals will need about 55 per cent of the remaining votes to win the seat.
Independent Dan Woodyatt draw slightly closer to Cook on the primary vote, and now trails by 729.
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said the by-election was disappointing, but the result was yet to be determined.
“It was always going to be a very difficult by-election – a very complex by-election – and I think that the party room knew that, the Shadow Cabinet knew that, and we worked very hard,” he said.
He denied that the seat was conservative.
“If you look at any basic analysis of that seat it’s always been a pretty marginal seat.”
Marshall said he took overall responsibility for the result, but federal Defence Minister David Johnston’s attack on the ASC – that he would not trust the company to “build a canoe” – had not helped.
“I think the comments that Senator Johnston made were both damaging and completely untrue and that had an effect on election day.”
He said would wait until the election result was clear before he apportioned blame.
Marshall defended the Liberal campaign against Woodyatt, because he said early polling showed there was an “appetite” for an independent in the seat.
He said Harris had run an active, grassroots campaign.
The Liberals’ primary vote was unchanged from the 35 per cent it received at the March state election when it lost to long-serving independent Bob Such, who died in October.
Early results had the Liberals firmly in front, with Woodyatt also polling strongly.
But Labor surged ahead after favourable polling at several large booths.
If Labor wins Fisher, it will have a lower house majority in its own right for the first time since Premier Jay Weatherill scraped to power at the March state election.
Labor has only held Fisher for one term – from 1985 to 1989 – since the seat was created in 1970.
– with AAP
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