Tony Abbott’s $733,000 war chest: Former PM throws huge sums of cash at campaign to to save his seat of 25 years from lawyer and Olympic skier Zali Steggall
- Former prime minister Tony Abbott facing a threat in his Warringah electorate
- World champion skier Zali Steggall stands a chance of winning seat at May poll
- Mr Abbott’s Liberal Party has amassed a $730,000 war chest to defend turf
Tony Abbott is spending more than $700,000 in a desperate bid to stop a world champion skier from snatching his blue-ribbon Liberal electorate at the next federal election.
Winter Olympian Zali Steggall stands a good chance of winning the former Prime Minister’s affluent seat of Warringah, on Sydney’s lower north shore and northern beaches.
In a bid to stop this happening, the Liberal Party in Warringah has raised $730,000, The Australian Financial Review has reported.
Tony Abbott (pictured) is spending more than $700,000 in a desperate bid to stop a world champion skier from snatching his blue-ribbon Liberal electorate at the next federal election
Ms Steggall has hit back at the Liberal Party, after it accused her of being a front for left-wing activist group GetUp!.
‘It is rather ironic that after spreading rumours that I am funded by GetUp!, from whom I don’t receive a cent, Mr Abbott has such a “war chest”, without disclosure of how much is from far-right extremist groups,’ she told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday.
‘My grassroots campaign is purely relying on community support via public donations.
‘I don’t have anywhere near that amount of funding, but I do have huge community engagement and support.’
Winter Olympian Zali Steggall (pictured) stands a good chance of winning the former Prime Minister’s affluent seat of Warringah, on Sydney’s lower north shore and northern beaches
While Mr Abbott kept his seat at the 2016 election, his primary vote was dramatically slashed to just 51.6 per cent after he suffered a 9.2 per cent swing against him on first preferences.
His 25-year career in federal politics could come to an end if his primary vote falls below 50 per cent.
This would enable Ms Steggall, an independent, to potentially win his seat with preferences from Labor, the Greens and other independent candidates.
The 44-year-old world champion skier is campaigning on the issue of climate change, and is the third independent candidate to declare her hand.
She won a bronze medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics at Nagano in Japan and is now a barrister attempting the win the votes of disaffected Liberal Party voters, disenchanted with Mr Abbott’s conservative stance on global warming and gay marriage.
The 44-year-old world champion skier (pictured with husband Tim) is campaigning on the issue of climate change, and is the third independent candidate to declare her hand
‘Having talked to many people in the electorate over the past month, there is clear excitement for a fresh new voice for Warringah,’ she said.
Indigenous broadcaster Susan Moylan-Coombs and Alice Thompson, who advised former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on infrastructure, are also in the race as independents.
In the July 2016 election, former Australian Idol host James Mathison polled 11.4 per cent of the vote as an independent.
He came fourth behind Labor and the Greens but his following ate into the Liberal Party’s primary vote.
Across Sydney Harbour, former Australian Medical Association president Dr Kerryn Phelps won Mr Turnbull’s old eastern suburbs seat of Wentworth, after scoring 29 per cent of the primary vote and winning on preferences.
Those circumstances have seen the Liberal Party amass war chests to spend in usually safe seats like Warringah, seeing it outlay more than than usual $50,000.
The Liberal Party’s Federal Electorate Councils in safe seats on Sydney’s north shore and northern beaches traditionally divert funds to the party’s marginal seats in western Sydney.