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Abbott Criticies leak of Polling, page-2

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    'Vote for Abbott, save the Barrier Reef': Malcolm Turnbull's pitch to Warringah voters

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned voters in Warringah of a "hung parliament or a Shorten Labor government" if they did not vote for Tony Abbott in the frantic final week of the 2016 election campaign.
    The 11th-hour letter to voters in Mr Abbott's seat, obtained by Fairfax Media, emerged after The Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday that, 10 days before the election, the Liberal Party polled 400 people in Mr Abbott's seat and found the former prime minister could lose on preferences to independent James Mathison, Labor or Nick Xenophon Team candidate Marie Rowland.

    That report prompted a renewed storm between the Prime Minister and the man he usurped, with Mr Abbott lashing out at the "sneaky, underhanded" leaking of polling data.
    But senior Liberal Party and Labor strategists said on Thursday the intervention - which included a letterbox drop and robo-calls - saved the political career of Mr Abbott, coming as a direct pitch to wavering Liberals who were thinking of backing an independent or progressive candidate.

    Mr Turnbull's letter even promised "Barrier Reef protection" under a re-elected Coalition.
    "Your protest vote, be it directed to Labor or Independent, could inadvertently deliver Bill Shorten as PM. That's a recipe for chaos," it said.
    "I need every local vote for the Liberal Party, including yours, to ensure a stable MAJORITY Government for Australia.
    "With the heavy targeting of this seat by pro-Labor activists, only a local Liberal vote for my colleague Tony Abbott ensures stable majority Government, with a clear and detailed plan.

    "This plan will provide jobs and growth, real funding for the Aged, Education and our Barrier Reef protection project and Medicare guaranteed."
    Mr Abbott effectively confirmed the authenticity of the polling data, while saying just three people had access to the information at the time.
    He thanked "everyone from the Prime Minister down for their efforts" in hanging on to Warringah but condemned the "sneaky, underhand business of leaking [which] needs to stop, it really does need to stop. It is absolutely corrosive of trust."
    "The polling in question was very, very closely held. I had it, [former Liberal Party federal director] Tony Nutt had it, the Prime Minister had it and I'm just very disappointed that someone has chosen to put it out there for self-serving reasons," he said.
    Mr Turnbull said the leaked polling was "regrettable" but said: "We put in a great team effort last year. I know there have been a few regrets about the election result ... but we won the election, we're getting on with the job.
    "I'll certainly make some inquiries [into who leaked it] but I'm focused on delivering for the people of Australia today."
    A senior NSW Liberal said phone calls and the letterbox drop "swung it back" for Mr Abbott.
    But an Abbott loyalist in Warringah said the story was a "beat-up" and should be interpreted as a shot across Mr Abbott's bow to curb his recent public commentary, which has been almost universally viewed as negative for the Turnbull-led Coalition.
    "A drover's dog could win Warringah for the Liberals. Even when the national swing is on, it does not happen to the same level in Warringah; look at the booths in Mosman and Forestville," he said.
    A senior Labor campaign operative said the Liberal panic in Warringah became clear about 72 hours from the election, when the letter from Mr Turnbull landed in letterboxes.
    "Abbott would have had to green light this, there is no way the party would do it without his knowledge. We knew at that point that Abbott had accepted he was in trouble of losing the seat," said the source.

    Broadcaster Ray Hadley hit out at suggestions that he was "drafted in" to help Mr Abbott by trying to derail the campaign of Mr Mathison.
    "It's the greatest load of crap I've ever heard and it's been planted by Malcolm Turnbull in order to discredit Tony Abbott," he said.


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