Union’s wrecking ball plan to oust Liberals from safe seats
Australia's most militant left-wing union is polling blue ribbon Liberal seats like Tony Abbott's electorate of Warringah to find weak spots where it can dump support for Labor candidates and instead back strong independents.
News Corp Australia can reveal the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union has polled voters in traditional Liberal seats in NSW, Queensland and Victoria as part of a wrecking ball plan to get anyone other than a Liberal into Parliament.
Union polling in former prime minister Mr Abbott's seat on the northern beaches has revealed six out of 10 people in his electorate would vote against him.
"We knew Abbott was on the nose but the result of the polling was pretty overwhelming - and much better than we expected," a senior CFMEU source told News Corp Australia.
The CFMEU has confirmed it would consider bankrolling an independent candidate.
"If it changes the numbers in the Parliament then that's the outcome we are after," the source said.
And that could happen with the blessing of Labor chiefs.
Independent Kerryn Phelps won former PM Malcolm Turnbull's seat of Wentworth with a campaign that was run by Darrin Barnett, a former staffer for Labor PM Julia Gillard.
The polling of 1045 Warringah residents found that on a two-party-preferred basis, 61 per cent would vote for an independent and 39 per cent would vote Liberal.
The ReachTel/UComms poll found almost 62 per cent of voters in the electorate disapprove or strongly disapprove of Mr Abbott, with voters aged 35-50 most strongly against him.
But Mr Abbott hit back and warned "the Labor Party and its proxies are trying very hard to turn Warringah into a battleground".
"I've never taken Warringah for granted and I'm certainly not going to be taking it for granted this time," he said.
"A Liberal win has never mattered more - right around the country but especially here in Warringah, and my local campaign team and I will be striving every day to ensure a strong result."
Louise Hislop, president of the anti-Abbott Voice of Warringah campaign, said pollsters had also quizzed voters on how they would vote for surfer Layne Beachley or Warringah mayor Michael Regan.
No one has formally stood against Mr Abbott yet.
Potential independent candidate Jane Caro said the polling results "are quite phenomenal because they don't even know who the candidate is yet.
"For many people it is a bit too far to vote Labor so a strong independent candidate would be ideal," she said.
University of NSW political expert Dr Mark Rolfe said: "The poll shows there is a considerable number of disgruntled voters.
"Obviously the Labor Party would help with the same sort of tactical machinations as they did in Wentworth. They know if they run a strong candidate it is not going to help the independent get up."