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Australian Opposition Claims Victory in Vote for Rudd’s Old Seat

Australia’s opposition party claimed victory in a special election for a district in Queensland previously held by Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s defeated opponent.

Labor’s Terri Butler, an employment lawyer, thanked voters on her Facebook page for her victory, even as the Liberal-National government refused to concede. With postal votes yet to be counted, Labor has 52.3 percent of the vote, according to the Australian Electoral Commission’s website. Liberal-National candidate Bill Glasson has 47.7 percent.

A Labor victory in the inner-city Brisbane seat of Griffith is “the most likely outcome,” George Brandis, the government’s attorney general and a Queensland senator, said on Sky News today. Still, he said “it’s too early to declare victory or concede defeat.”

Abbott’s coalition has trailed in opinion polls since winning power in September, its popularity dented by domestic fiscal concerns. The government has announced the budget deficit will balloon to A$47 billion ($42 billion) this fiscal year from a previous forecast of a A$30.1 billion shortfall, faced a spying scandal with Indonesia and reversed on a pre-election promise to match Labor’s pledge to increase education funding.

Labor leads the Liberal-National coalition by 3,148 votes, the Australian Electoral Commission website shows. Brandis told Sky News there are more than 10,000 postal and pre-ballot votes to be counted.

A Labor victory would see Labor maintain its 55 seats in the lower house of parliament, compared with the coalition’s 90. Glasson, a former president of the Australian Medical Association, was defeated in his bid to take Rudd’s seat in the September general election.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angus Whitley in Sydney at awhitley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Rabil at srabil@bloomberg.net

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