Former prime minister Tony Abbott has blasted “sneaky, underhanded” Liberal Party leaks after dire election campaign polling was revealed.
The Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday morning Malcolm Turnbull personally had bombarded Mr Abbott’s electorate of Warringah with automated phone calls and letters in the days before last year’s poll.
The last-minute push came after internal polling suggested Mr Abbott could lose his blue-ribbon seat to former Australian Idol host James Mathison or Labor.
Speaking outside his Sydney home, Mr Abbott denounced the leak and said only Mr Turnbull, former party director Tony Nutt and himself had the sensitive material.
“The sneaky, underhand business of leaking needs to stop, it really does need to stop,” he told Channel Nine.
“It is absolutely corrosive of trust.
“The polling in question was very, very closely held.
“And I’m just very disappointed that someone has chosen to put it out there for self-serving reasons.”
Poll predicted Liberal loss
The Liberal Party polled 400 people in the northern beaches electorate 10 days from July 2.
The polling showed 44 per cent of people said they would vote Liberal.
But that number plunged to 34 per cent when people were asked if they would vote for Mr Abbott.
The worst-case scenario showed the ALP claiming victory 57-43 on a two-party preferred basis after preferences from Mr Mathison were distributed.
“It goes without saying that the seat needs some resourcing in the final week,” the polling concluded.
Leaks are ‘always regrettable’, Turnbull says
Mr Turnbull’s final week robocalls apparently said: “Hello, I’m Malcolm Turnbull. I’m ringing to let you know that your electorate is one of just 15 that is crucial to forming a stable government and preventing the chaos of a hung Parliament in uncertain times.”
The Coalition survived in Warringah 62 per cent to 38 and holds power with a one-seat majority.
Asked whether he knew the leak’s source, Mr Turnbull said: “I don’t, I don’t.”
“These things are always regrettable,” he said.
“I will certainly make some inquiries.”
One of Mr Abbott’s supporters, Eric Abetz – who on Thursday joined Mr Turnbull for an announcement in Launceston – said the leak was a “singularly unhelpful” distraction.
“Whoever is responsible for it hopefully will be brought to account,” the Tasmanian senator said.
“I think we might have a fair idea as to where it might have come from, but I’ll allow other people to speculate.”