SUPER SATURDAY: Braddon key to who wins crucial day
LABOR appears set to hold its four seats as almost half a million voters go to the polls in a Super Saturday of by-elections.
Despite earlier signs the Liberal Party could end a 98-year drought of governments winning seats from oppositions at by-elections, polls are pointing to Labor retaining the knife-edge seats of Braddon in North-West Tasmania and Longman in Queensland's southeast, while comfortably hanging on to Perth and Fremantle.
But Labor Leader Bill Shorten, whose position may depend on the outcome, was underplaying the latest Newspoll figures.
"Labor started these campaigns well behind," he said in Devonport this morning where he was campaigning with candidate Justine Keay.
"Anyone who tells you they know what's happening is having a lend of you."
The latest Newspoll puts the two-party preferred figure in Longman and Braddon at 51-49 in Labor's favour.
The polls will be a test for Mr Shorten's leadership, with any losses triggering a rethink of Labor's electoral strategy and some saying a leadership change should also be considered.
The Newspoll, published by The Weekend Australian, found Labor's primary vote would have risen seven points to 47 per cent in Braddon if Anthony Albanese was leader rather than Mr Shorten. In Longman, the figure was 45 per cent.
In two-party terms, this would translate to a comfortable lead of 55-45 to Labor in both seats.
Mr Shorten dodged direct questions on his future if Labor lost any of the by- elections saying the message would be "we didn't get enough votes. Beyond that, let's not give up yet".
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was also in Devonport this morning, said Labor had run "a campaign that is based on lies" on health funding and other issues, and took another swipe at candidates who caused the by-elections because of dual citizenship issues.
"They've got candidates who sat in Parliament for months drawing parliamentary salaries at public expense when they knew they were not entitled to be there and now they are running again the same lies they ran in 2016," Mr Turnbull said.
Voting closes at 6pm local time in all five electorates with counting to start shortly after.
See themercury.com.au tonight for regular updates.