Peter Dutton has made a strange request to voters after mining magnate Clive Palmer made good on his threat to campaign against him.
The Defence Minister – who holds the Queensland seat of Dickson on a margin of 4.6 per cent – has been listed second last and below Labor on the United Australia Party’s how-to-vote card.
Speaking with Sydney radio, Mr Dutton said the move was “unfortunate” but called on voters to disregard Mr Palmer’s preference recommendations given Labor’s lack of commitments to Dickson.
“Mine (has) always been a tight seat,” he told 2GB.
“So I think it’s unfortunate Clive’s made the decision he has, but all I would say is, if you’re thinking of voting for Clive … in Dickson, don’t follow his ticket. If you’re inclined to vote for him one, please put me two and then fill out each other square.”
The UAP won 2.2 per cent of the primary vote in the seat at the 2019 election and preference flows were more favourable to the Coalition.
Mr Palmer told the National Press Club in April that he planned to spend $70m on advertising during the election.
Many of those advertisements feature Liberal turncoat Craig Kelly with the caption “Australia’s next prime minister”.
Mr Dutton laughed off the claim and called the campaign a “sideshow”.
“He’s got a lot of ambition,” Mr Dutton laughed.
“You’ll have to win 76 seats and I just don’t see where those seats are … I mean it’s all a sideshow and you’ve got to put it to one side.”
A YouGov poll commissioned by The Australian indicated that Labor was in the box seat to secure a majority of up to 80 seats if an election was held today.
The survey draws on a new format of polling not used in an Australian election but was successful at predicting the 2017 hung parliament result in the UK.
When asked about the polling, Mr Dutton dismissed it as “quite strange’.
“I don’t put much credit to it at all, to be honest … It doesn’t sound very scientific to me,” he said.
Mr Sutton said he was relying on the mood on the ground that pointed to voters not wanting to “risk Albanese”.
But did the results have an impact on Prime Minister Scott Morrison?
“On the (Liberal) call this morning, he was upbeat … he’s a determined campaigner,” Mr Dutton added.