National Secretary of the Labor Party, Karl Bitar, has defended the party’s federal election campaign from criticism it was confusing and lacked a central message. Instead he blamed internal disunity caused by a series of damaging cabinet leaks. “That’s the major factor in this campaign, the problem around the leaks.” Mr Bitar praised the performance of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, saying party research during the final week of the campaign showed voters clearly preferred her over Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. He admitted the ALP won’t have the numbers to form a government in its own right following yesterday’s federal election.
Potentially Labor could win half the 150 seats in the lower house, Mr Bitar said “but only if all the cards fall the right way”.
“And the Libs are in a very, very similar position as well,” he told the Nine Network this morning.
At the close of counting at 2.00am (AEST), the Australian Electoral Commission had Labor and coalition each winning 71 seats with three independents and an Australia Green.
Four other seats are too close to call.
Mr Bitar said Labor was “quietly optimistic” of winning Corangamite (Vic) and Lindsay (NSW) when thousands of postal votes were counted.
“Brisbane (Qld) is neck and neck … and Hasluck (Western Australia) is still up in the air but at the moment it’s likely to go to the Liberal Party.”
But the result could have been worse had the government not improved its vote in the final two weeks of the campaign, following a period of internal distractions.
“For seven to 10 days … our vote took such an amazing hit,” Mr Bitar said.
“We were facing swings of anywhere between 10 and 12 per cent across the country.”