The ALP has denied the party is “running dead” in the Canning by-election, insisting they are giving the campaign their best shot.
An Abbott Government frontbencher claimed on Wednesday the ALP were running a perfunctory campaign to avoid a Liberal leadership challenge.
According to Sky News, an anonymous frontbencher said Labor was neglecting to invest resources into winning the by-election in the West Australian seat.
“How breathtakingly arrogant of Mr Abbott and his Liberals to assume that they will just simply win the Canning by-election and just start making all these sort of overconfident comments assuming what the people in this particular electorate will do,” ALP leader Bill Shorten said.
“For me and for Labor the issues in the Canning by-election are all about jobs and cuts to health care, and education and opposing those cuts that Mr Abbott wants to introduce.”
Labor candidate Matt Keogh told ABC radio the party was not “running dead” and were “playing to win”.
A leadership change could see a rise in popularity for the Coalition, after the ALP’s popularity hit a three-month high during August.
PM Tony Abbott told reporters at a press conference in Canning they expected strong competition with the ALP.
“As for the Labor party, they want this seat. I expect an absolute blitz from the Labor party in the last couple of weeks of this campaign,” he told reporters.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop recently labelled Mr Keogh a “hipster Labor lawyer”, a reference to his former residence in Perth’s inner suburb of Mount Lawley, which is well-known for its cafes.
Ms Bishop, who holds the Perth seat of Curtin, reportedly briefed cabinet on a perceived lack of resources the ALP was pouring into the by-election, compared to initial predictions.
The ALP are thought to be holding out for the WA electorate redistribution in 2016, which will see Canning split and a new district of Burt created.
Its demographics should favour Labor.
The Liberals held the seat of Canning for the past 14 years after wrestling it from the ALP in 2001.
Former representative, the late Don Randall, won the seat at the last election 62 per cent to 38 per cent (two-party-preferred).
The Canning by-election has been referred to as a “health check” for the Coalition and a loss could spell the end of Tony Abbott’s leadership.