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Federal Labor stares down barrel of WA rout
Federal Labor stares down barrel of WA rout

The Labor Party enters the Federal election well behind in the polls and could be reduced to just two seats in WA if the current swing against the Government is sustained.

But Julia Gillard will be hoping growing anger against the State coalition Government in Queensland might help Labor pick up a handful of Federal seats in the Sunshine State and give it the breathing room it needs to survive.

Polling of the nation's most marginal seats published this week suggested Labor risked losing at least 18 seats.

The detailed study of 54 marginal seats suggested Labor could be reduced to just 54 seats in the House of Representatives and the coalition would take 91.

The Government fares worst in marginal western Sydney seats, where issues such as asylum seekers and the terrible legacy of the last State Labor government continue to prove a drag on the ALP.

But in Queensland, Liberal National Party Premier Campbell Newman has caused anger over mass public service job cuts, leading to speculation the Gillard Government could pick up as many as six seats there.

The Government clings to power through the support of crossbenchers - some of whom are almost certain to lose their seats - so Labor will actually need to gain seats this election if it is to hold office.

While most campaigning will be in vital seats in western Sydney and Brisbane, two WA electorates could prove battlegrounds.

Labor holds only three of 15 Federal seats in WA and the party is bracing to defend the southern suburbs electorate of Brand, held by Special Minister of State Gary Gray with a slim margin of 3.3 per cent.

However, it holds hopes of winning back the swing seat of Hasluck, which was lost in 2010 to Liberal Ken Wyatt by just 0.6 per cent.

Also closely watched will be the huge rural seat of O'Connor, which the Liberal Party lost in 2010 to the WA Nationals.

The Liberals will be fighting to take it back in September.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith is likely to hold his inner-city seat of Perth, though a swing against him is predicted.

Both Labor and the Liberals are yet to lock in candidates for most WA seats. Labor officials are waiting until after the State election before nominating contenders.