11.00PM WRAP-UP: Labor's Lisa Chesters says she is “very confident” she has won the federal seat of Bendigo while Liberal candidate Greg Bickley refuses to speculate on a result until Sunday.
Ms Chesters watched results of the count with her supporters at Bendigo’s Trades Hall from early in the night while Mr Bickley attended a Bendigo Braves’ basketball game before joining his supporters at his campaign headquarters about 9.30pm. The Advertiser was asked to leave soon after so he could make a private speech to supporters.
The projected two-candidate preferred vote has Ms Chesters at 51.23 per cent while Mr Bickley is at 48.77 per cent, a swing of 8.19. Almost 80 per cent of Bendigo's votes have been counted so far. The Greens have received 7,119 first-preference votes while The Nationals have 4,060.
10.00PM UPDATE: Greg Bickley is making a private speech to supporters and refused to allow media to attend.
9.50PM UPDATE: CORRECTION – Lisa Chesters made a victory speech but clarified that she has not officially claimed the seat of Bendigo as previously reported. She is "very confident" she has won but is waiting for final vote counts before she confirms a result.
She noted in her speech to supporters that she will be the first woman to represent the electorate if she is successful and thanked her "comrades" for their support. Meanwhile, Greg Bickley says he "is not conceding anything tonight".
9.25PM UPDATE: Greg Bickley has arrived at his party function. He has not yet called a result, saying that he's waiting on pre-poll numbers. He believes postal votes will be in his favour.
Apparently Lisa Chesters will make a speech shortly.
8.50PM UPDATE: A Liberal staffer is still holding out hope that Greg Bickley might win the seat from postal and pre-poll votes, however there is not a lot of optimism or excitement at the party function. Mr Bickley is still on his way and is expected to arrive within half an hour. Meanwhile, Lisa Chesters says she is waiting on results from two more booths before declaring a result.
8.40PM UPDATE: Supporters are hugging Ms Chesters and congratulating her, although she is yet to officially declare a result. Retired member Steve Gibbons is still not present at the function but is expected to attend.
Meanwhile, several media outlets are reporting that Tony Abbott has defeated Kevin Rudd.
Former prime minister John Howard has arrived at the Coalition's election night party in Sydney. Mr Howard says the Australian people have delivered a "resounding verdict". "You can trust Tony Abbott, he'll look after your interests," Mr Howard says. "I can't speak too highly of what Tony Abbott has done....All of those ridiculous people who said he was unelectable should understand how foolish they were to underestimate him." - THE AGE
8.30PM UPDATE: About 40 Liberal supporters are watching results at a function at campaign headquarters in Bull Street. Greg Bickley is yet to arrive.
8.25PM UPDATE: Several ALP members at Trades Hall say Lisa Chesters has won. Ms Chesters is yet to declare victory herself.
8.20PM UPDATE: Lisa Chesters is confident the ALP will retain the seat. But says it’s still too close to call. The mood at the Bendigo ALP function at Trades Hall is upbeat with about 80 party faithful gathered to watch the results on from the ABC on a big screen. Ms Chesters said party members and volunteers were celebrating all their hard work in the lead-up to the election. Ms Chesters said there had been swings towards the Coalition at some of the smaller country polling booths but she is was awaiting results from the seat's larger polling booths.
The projected two-candidate preferred vote has Ms Chesters at about 52 per cent and Mr Bickley at about 47 per cent, a swing of almost seven per cent towards Mr Bickley.
7.30PM UPDATE: Lisa Chesters says she is awaiting for results from the bigger booths before “making any announcement”. “I’m excited about where I am,” she said. Ms Chesters said it would probably take several days before the pre-poll results were known. “I believe we’ll get an answer tonight from the other booths and everyone who voted today,” she said. “With Steve Gibbons we had a definitive result by 8.30pm."
Greg Bickley, who is taking time out to watch the Lady Braves game, said he didn't have any news on the results yet. He will join his party faithful in his Bull Street office in about 30 minutes.
7.15PM UPDATE: Greg Bickley appears to be clearly winning the pre-poll vote. The Bendigo Advertiser counted first preference pre-poll votes at the counting centre at the former Toyworld site. The Liberal candidate polled 180 first preference votes compared with 135 votes for Labor candidate Lisa Chesters. 15,228 pre-poll votes were lodged in the seat of Bendigo. National Party Victorian president Peter Schwarz said Mr Bickley was “clearly” in front in pre-poll voting. But he noted areas like Castlemaine, would have more left-leaning voters likely to favour the ALP and said the early results were far from conclusive.
The Australian Electoral Commission website shows four per cent of Bendigo votes had been counted at 7.15pm. While the results are fluctuating, Ms Chesters and Mr Bickley are evenly placed on first-preference votes. The projected two-candidate preferred vote has Ms Chesters as at about 56 per cent and Mr Bickley at about 44 per cent, a swing of three per cent towards Mr Bickley.
6.00PM UPDATE: Bendigo’s voting booths have closed and counting is set to start. A live tally will be available for Bendigo from the Australian Electoral Commission's Virtual Tally Room online here. According to the AEC, 102,671 voters are enrolled in the seat. AEC Bendigo divisional returning officer Terry Holmes said 15,228 people had lodged pre-poll votes for the local seat prior to today’s election.
4.40PM UPDATE: The Coalition is on track for a landslide victory, according to the Sky News exit poll that has just come in. It shows the opposition will win 97 seats, a 25-seat gain. Labor will lose 21 seats and have only 51 MPs in parliament. It says the only crossbenchers to keep their seats would be Tasmanian Andrew Wilkie and Queenslander Bob Katter. Greens MP Adam Bandt is predicted to lose the seat of Melbourne. -THE AGE
4.00PM UPDATE: Party volunteers are reporting mixed responses from people going in to vote. As lines begin to dwindle at Bendigo Uniting Church Hall, campaigners and candidates say the election result is still far from clear. Liberal volunteer Cameron McCaig said he was optimistic. "It's been really positive. Everyone's pretty confident of a national result for the Coalition, although we're not counting our chickens yet. Here in Bendigo I think Greg (Bickley) is a real chance... It's going to be close."
Labor volunteer Peter, who works as a security guard at Thales said he had come straight from work to hand out how-to-vote cards. "I think it will be close," he said. "I really think Lisa Chesters would be a great representative for Bendigo." Minor parties have worked hard to spruik their alternative plans for the future of the seat.
Palmer United Party candidate Anita Donlon said she had had a lot of feedback from people disillusioned with the two major parties. The former state Liberal candidate said she was hopeful the mood for change would resonate with voters. "I've been inundated with support," she said.
Sex party volunteer Simon Thompson said most voters had ignored the people handing out how-to-vote cards. He said he was concerned that people would be casting donkey votes. "Especially young people. They seem fairly strong-headed walking past and not wanting to talk to us."
3.15PM UPDATE: Labor candidate Lisa Chesters says she’s not feeling nervous despite an election result potentially being hours away. And Liberal candidate Greg Bickley says he will be working hard to secure votes ahead of the 6pm cut off.
Speaking from a polling booth in Kangaroo Flat, Ms Chesters said she was “feeling really good”. “There’s not much else you can do at this point,” she said. “Either way my life will change completely. “When you work really hard and have left it all out on the field, I’ll finish this campaign will my head held high. “It’s a good feeling.” ALP members and supporters will meet at the Bendigo Trades Hall to watch the vote count tonight.
Mr Bickley said he was making “no assumptions” about the result. “We have had a huge task in Bendigo to claw back a significant margin,” he said. “And the result may or may not be known this event. “So we’ll be working hard from now to 6pm to ensure every vote counts.” Mr Bickley said he had tried to talk to as many members of his “army” of volunteers today to thank them for their support. Liberal supporters and members will meet at Mr Bickley’s office in Bull Street to watch the count tonight.
ABOVE: We discovered this little piece of comic relief from independent candidate Dan Abikair on Youtube.
2.40PM UPDATE: More than 15,000 people from the seat of Bendigo cast their vote before today’s election. Australian Electoral Commission Bendigo divisional returning officer Terry Holmes said 15,228 pre-poll votes had been lodged at the Hargreaves Street office. “It was certainly more than 2010,” he said. The office is only open to intestate voters today. “They haven’t been out the door,” Mr Holmes said. “It’s been steady. “There has been quite a number of people voting here from interstate.” Mr Holmes said 16,498 pre-poll votes had been lodged at the Bendigo office from all electorates. All booths will be open until 6pm.
2.00PM UPDATE: It may be no longer possible to place a bet on the outcome of the 2013 election with Sportsbet – it has already declared the government unbackable – but there is still plenty of action available for a punt on the outcome.
Sportsbet has decided the Coalition is likely to win at least 20 seats, increasing its position from 72 to at least 92 seats, giving it a hefty majority of at least 34 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives.
It has low odds of $1.85 for the Coalition to win 91 to 100 seats. The odds drift out to $2.35 for the Coalition to pick up 100 or more seats. They drift further out to $2.75 for a more constrained 81 to 90 Coalition seats. Sportsbet thus sees a landslide as much more likely than a tight election. –THE AGE
1.30PM UPDATE: Voters are taking advantage of today's sunny skies with families riding their bikes to polling booths and people taking the opportunity to walk their dogs. Sausages are the lunch of choice with volunteers cooking barbecues at many of the polling booth sites.
10.30AM UPDATE: Bendigo is enjoying a little national exposure on this election day morning. The Today Show's Natalia Cooper is visiting to do some live weather updates. Welcome to Bendigo, Natalia.
9AM UPDATE: Just while we're waiting for this day to really get rolling... some background for the record. In the last big federal election of 2010 there was a 95.27 per cent voter turnout in Bendigo with 92,265 formal votes and 3588 people who didn't make their vote count! Let's do better this time around. Of course, Steve Gibbons grabbed the seat by winning 54,928 of the formal vote on a two candidate preferred basis with Liberal opponent Craig Hunter getting 37,337. At the time the Australian Electoral Commission deemed the seat 'fairly safe'. Will that change today...
8.45AM UPDATE: The polling booths are open – the voting has begun. Remember, if you aren't one of the one in 10 Bendigo people who have apparently already voted before election day, you have until 6pm sharp to cast that vote or their will be financial consequences! There are 13 candidates hoping to become the next federal member for Bendigo. One will join this list of those who have represented this great electorate of Bendigo since 1901. Gives a little perspective to why your vote is important today...
Gibbons, S (ALP) 1998–
Reid, B (LP) 1990–1998
Brumby, J M (ALP) 1983–1990
Bourchier, J W (LP) 1972–1983
Kennedy, A D (ALP) 1969–1972
Beaton, N L (ALP) 1960–1969
Clarey, P J (ALP) 1949–1960
Rankin, G J (ST CP/UCP/CP) 1937–1949
Harrison, E F (UAP) 1931–1937
Kean, R V (ALP) 1929–1931
Hurry, G (NAT) 1922–1929
Hughes, W M (NAT) 1917–1922
Hampson, A J (ALP) 1915–1917
Arthur, J A (ALP) 1913–1914
Quick, J (PROT/IND PROT/LIB) 1901–1913
8.00AM UPDATE: Welcome to the Addy's rolling coverage of the federal election. Check back here during the day to see photos from Bendigo's polling booths and regular updates on the day's events.