The Liberals will not lose the Canning by-election on September 19, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says, despite polls closing the gap between the parties.
Speaking in Perth on Sunday, Mr Abbott declined to say what winning margin would be acceptable in next weekend’s poll, only that he wanted his candidate, former SAS captain Andrew Hastie, to win.
A Galaxy poll commissioned by News Corp is predicting a swing of nearly 10 per cent against the government in the September 19 West Australian by-election.
Labor needs a 12 per cent swing to win.
“I’m just not going to get into this kind of what would be a good result, what would not … all I know is that I want the best possible candidate for Canning and that’s what we have got in Andrew Hastie,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr Abbott commended Mr Hastie again when asked whether he would step down as leader if they lost.
“We’re not going to lose the Canning by-election. We’ve got an outstanding candidate,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior Liberal frontbencher Peter Dutton has urged his colleagues to focus on winning the Canning by-election amid ongoing leadership speculation.
“I think we can get there – and well – but not if we’re talking about ourselves,” Mr Dutton told Sky News.
Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek believes it’s “odds on” that the Liberals would change leaders.
But she doesn’t think it would make much difference.
“It’s extraordinary that they think a change of leadership is going to fix all of that because they’re all part of the same team that made the same bad decisions on the same product,” she told ABC TV on Sunday.
Mr Abbott said the Canning by-election was about the people of Canning, not Canberra.
“It’s not about me,” he said.
The by-election was triggered by the death of sitting Liberal MP Don Randall, who suffered a suspected heart attack in July, aged 62.