The militant Maritime Union of Australia will plunge more than $250,000 into Labor's campaign for the Perth seat of Hasluck over the next 10 days despite the Liberal Party being increasingly confident it will retain the marginal seat.
The MUA, which wants greater influence in the ALP, has already invested a small fortune in the election campaign of Adrian Evans, a union official.
But internal polling by the Liberal Party in the past week has found Mr Evans will struggle to unseat the incumbent, Liberal Ken Wyatt.
The West Australian understands the Liberal polling has Mr Wyatt ahead of the MUA candidate 53 per cent to 47 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
Polling found the Liberals on a 46 per cent primary vote, up four points from the 2010 election, with the ALP on 36 per cent (down 1.5) and the Greens on 9 per cent (down 3.8). ALP polling in Hasluck from mid-last month had the two parties split 50-50 after Kevin Rudd's return.
Mr Evans' team plans to spend at least $250,000 on letter drops newspaper advertisements and mail-outs in the last days of the campaign, ramping up after the election advertising blackout for electronic media starts next Wednesday at midnight.
The Liberals will spend about the same on mail-outs as well as television and radio ads from Sunday featuring Mr Wyatt and Donna Gordin, the Liberal candidate in Brand.
Labor sources say sitting MP Gary Gray has up to $300,000 to protect Brand, which he holds by 3.3 per cent. He has already spent a lot on cinema, newspaper advertising and letter drops.
Some of his staff have temporarily relocated from Canberra to Rockingham to help him.
In contrast to the MUA-backed ALP campaign in Hasluck, Mr Gray's fight is being bankrolled by the big end of town, either in cash or "in kind" donations such as advertising space.
It is believed millionaire businessman Nigel Satterley, property developer Ascot Capital, Hungry Jack's founder Jack Cowin and wealthy businessmen in resources have all helped Mr Gray.
"Gary is their personal project," an ALP source said. "They don't vote Labor, never have, but they support Gary because he's a Labor MP who thoroughly understands them and is one of them."
Ernst & Young hosted a fundraiser for Mr Gray this week and 190 attendees raised more than $65,000. Tables of 10 cost $3500 each.
Liberal polling last week shows the contest in Brand is close, but that Mr Gray is just in front.