Abbott support sinks in WA poll

Double trouble: Tony Abbott and Steve Irons are on the nose with voters. Picture: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

WA’s reputation as a Federal Liberal stronghold may be crumbling, with a comprehensive new poll showing a huge swing against the Government and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

A ReachTEL poll in the key seat of Swan, held by Liberal MP Steve Irons, suggests an 11-point swing towards Labor.

It would mean the ALP would win Swan and several other seats.

Conducted at the end of last month, in the last week of March, the poll of 730 residents showed the Liberals’ primary vote down 8.8 percentage points on what Mr Irons achieved at the 2013 election to 40.1 per cent.

Labor’s primary vote by contrast is up by 6.6 points to 37.2 per cent. Support for the Greens is down by 1.1 points to 10.5 per cent while Palmer United Party, which got 4.2 per cent at the last election, is polling just 1.2 per cent.

Preferences, allocated according to how those surveyed would vote, give Labor a 54.7-45.3 per cent lead in Swan, which was last held by the ALP in 2007.

At the 2013 poll, Mr Irons beat Labor’s John Bissett 56.5-43.5.

The 11-point turnaround, if replicated across Perth, would devastate the Government’s electoral stocks in a State that has been a bedrock of Liberal support over the past decade.

It would put at risk the seats of Hasluck (held by 4.9 per cent), Cowan (7.5 per cent), Pearce (8.1 per cent) and Stirling (10.3 per cent).

WA is due to get another seat at an upcoming redistribution.

Given the Swan result, this electorate could also be a Labor gain.

The poll also found strong support for the retention of penalty rates for people who work at weekends and on public holidays.

Almost two-thirds of those quizzed said people who worked in restaurants and cafes were paid “about right”, and while 58 per cent said they supported the retention of penalty rates.

Even among Liberal voters, 40 per cent backed penalty rates compared with 42 per cent who opposed them.

And with the Government looking to overhaul the tax system, almost 79 per cent of people in Swan said more had to be done to crack down on corporate tax avoidance.

The results in Swan are in line with a collation of Newspoll State-by-State polls that showed a six-point fall in Liberal Party primary support across WA and a seven-point lift for the ALP.

Labor leads the Government 54-46 on a two-party preferred vote.

At the last election, the Government rolled Labor 58.3 to 41.7 in WA, the strongest result in the country.

Those polls showed Labor leader Bill Shorten is preferred PM in WA.

But a separate ReachTEL poll, which showed Foreign Minister Julie Bishop more popular than Mr Abbott, highlights the pitfalls facing the member for Curtin.

The poll found 28.7 per cent of voters nationally thought Ms Bishop would be a better leader of the Government.

Only Malcolm Turnbull, at 42.6 per cent, was more appealing.

Ms Bishop’s support was heavily skewed, with 36.6 per cent of women backing her.

Just 20.6 per cent of men surveyed supported Ms Bishop, lower than the male support for Mr Abbott.

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