Abbott plays down leadership spill fears
TONY Abbott has brushed off suggestions his fate as Prime Minister hangs on the outcome of next weekend's Canning by-election.
A recent poll has forecast a 10% swing against the government when the Western Australian electorate votes.
Mr Abbott told a Perth media conference he was confident Liberal candidate Andrew Hastie would hold the previously safe seat despite the grim prediction.
"We're not going to lose the Canning by-election," he said.
"We've got an outstanding candidate, we've run a strong campaign, and I think the people of Canning are going to ask themselves 'who is going to look after them?'.
"I think it's absolutely crystal clear just where the best interests of the people of Perth, the people of Canning and the people of Western Australia lie."
His words were punctuated by a passing motorist, who yelled "you're all a bunch of w***ers" during the event, drawing a grin from the Prime Minister.
Speaking at a union rally in Armidale, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott's future could be in Canning voters' hands.
"Indeed, if there is a good swing against the government and we do the unthinkable and climb Mount Everest and elect Matt Keogh as a member of parliament, you may well not just save penalty rates but you may well see the end of Mr Abbott if we do well enough," Mr Shorten said.
He said yesterday Mr Abbott's party members were turning on him.
"Mr Abbott's troops are already lining up against him," he said.
"The election in Canning isn't even over and they're already starting to size up Mr Abbott's job.
"Australia deserves better than in-fighting amongst the Liberal Party."
Andrew Hastie is a former SAS captain who served in Afghanistan three times.
- APN NEWSDESK