Labor and the coalition are each claiming positives out of the by-election for the seat vacated by ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd.

Labor and the coalition are each claiming small victories in Kevin Rudd’s old seat of Griffith despite the fact there can be only one winner.

While Labor’s Terri Butler is likely to be triumphant in the by-election, a swing towards Bill Glasson of the Liberal National Party (LNP) is expected.

Ms Butler held a lead of 52.28 per cent on a two-party preferred basis late on Sunday, with a swing of 0.73 per cent towards Dr Glasson.

Labor says its likely win will show people have had enough of the Abbott government.

However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the coalition’s increased vote in the inner-Brisbane seat is a clear rejection of Labor’s “negative scare campaign”.

“On current indications (Dr Glasson) looks like producing a swing to the government – something that has not happened at a by-election since 1996,” Mr Abbott said in a statement on Sunday.

“In this respect, the Griffith by-election was a fine result for Bill Glasson and a poor result for (Labor leader) Bill Shorten.”

Mr Shorten disagrees.

“It’s good for Griffith and I think it’s a healthy sign in our democracy that people aren’t standing for Tony Abbott’s ruthless agenda of health and education cuts,” he said.

Ms Butler echoed that sentiment when she spoke on Sunday of her likely win.

“It’s a result that says, notwithstanding Tony Abbott’s star candidate, people have had enough of the secrecy and people are deeply concerned about the LNP’s cuts,” she said.

Dr Glasson says the Abbott government simply needs to get on with the job, even if that means making tough decisions.

The Labor Party couldn’t take a lot from the result in what was traditionally a Labor seat, he said.

Emeritus Professor John Warhurst from the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University says both sides will take comfort from the result.

“The LNP did well and showed that there is no strong voter reaction yet against the Abbott government despite talk of cuts and broken promises,” he said.

“Given the history of by-elections, the government did as well as could be expected.”

Although Dr Glasson won’t concede until 10,000 postal votes are counted, he admits things aren’t looking good for him.

“As it stands at the moment it’s going to be hard for me to get over the line,” he said.

The Australian Electoral Commission will begin counting postal votes on Monday.