Left-wing activist group GetUp! is making its first serious foray into West Australian politics, planning a deluge of phone calls in its bid to unseat Attorney-General Christian Porter.
GetUp!, which has long advocated progressive causes and targeted conservative MPs in other states, said it was hoping to make 180,000 phone calls in Mr Porter’s marginal electorate of Pearce to tilt that campaign against the Liberals.
Mr Porter is facing a significant fight to hold on to his seat, taking in large sections of Perth’s northern suburbs.
Labor is hopeful its candidate Kim Travers can overturn a 3.6 per cent margin.
GetUp! said it was targeting Mr Porter because he was one of the “leaders of the hard right of Australian politics”.
“This is the first federal election campaign that we’re running in Western Australia, but we’re running it because the people of Western Australia demanded that we do so,” lead campaigner Ed Miller said.
“He (Mr Porter) is one of the key blockers on the issues that we, as a progressive movement, care about.”
Mr Miller said a survey of the group’s members had ranked Mr Porter fifth on the list of “blockers” of progressive causes.
Around the country, GetUp! is targeting some of the highest-profile conservative MPs.
The lobby group has thrown resources behind efforts to oust Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton from their seats of Warringah and Dickson respectively, as well as the electorates held by Greg Hunt, Kevin Andrews and Nicolle Flint.
Porter not worried by GetUp!
Mr Porter dismissed the GetUp! campaign against him as being led by a “radical left-wing blow-in organisation”, saying the characterisation of him as a “hard-right” politician was “nonsense”.
“I have always been in the centre of my party, very happily so,” he said.
“They are just trying to knock off people they see as contributing to Liberal politics.”
Mr Porter again said he was the underdog in the Pearce contest, but was confident the GetUp! campaign would have minimal impact in the race.
“You cannot use Sydney-based money to win WA seats. You have to work locally if you want to win a seat in WA,” he said.
In addition to GetUp!, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has also ramped up its campaigning efforts in WA, with conservative MP Andrew Hastie among its targets.