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Sunday 24

February, 2019 9:06 AM



Abbott challenger could get Labor help

Abbott challenger could get Labor help

The former world champion skier challenging Tony Abbott for his federal seat of Warringah could get preferences from Labor.

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By AAP 28.01.2019 02:11 PM

Former world champion skier Zali Steggall could receive Labor preferences to help her bid to replace Tony Abbott in the federal seat of Warringah.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says his party will examine the independent's policies before deciding whether to back her with preferences.

Labor preferences were key in electing independent Kerryn Phelps to the seat of Wentworth after Malcolm Turnbull resigned from parliament last year.

"This is an independent, she's just announced she's running yesterday, we'll examine her policies," Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

"One thing's for sure, Labor is committed to supporting action on climate change."

Climate change will be one of Ms Steggall's main policy platforms, and the barrister says Mr Abbott's views do not represent those of the "socially progressive" electorate.

"I am prepared, I am supported and I know the views of the community," she said.

The former slalom world champion and 1998 Winter Olympics bronze medallist is the third female independent to announce a bid to oust the former prime minister at the election.

Alice Thompson, a former adviser to Malcolm Turnbull, and indigenous activist Susan Moylan-Coombs will also vie for the northern beaches seat.

Labor MP Emma Husar, who is still weighing up whether she will also stand as an independent candidate, congratulated Ms Steggall for nominating.

"Women flexing, showing what they're capable away from the old, powerful, male-dominated party structures," Ms Husar tweeted.

Liberal-turned-independent MP Julia Banks also offered her support, tweeting: "Australia and Warringah needs strong independent, genuine people like you".

The Liberal Party has lost three ministers in a week to retirement - Nigel Scullion, Michael Keenan and Kelly O'Dwyer - leading former deputy prime minister John Anderson to urge other MPs thinking of leaving at the election to instead stay in parliament.

"I deeply believe that members of the coalition should consider very carefully what they should do, as well as what they would like to do," Mr Anderson told The Australian.

He said the departure of experienced MPs would further weaken the government.

This week Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to head back to Queensland, where a number of LNP seats are in doubt, for a series of road and rail project announcements.

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