By-elections a leadership test, says Turnbull, but not Shorten

July 27, 2018

Malcolm Turnbull has linked the outcome of tomorrow’s Super Saturday by-elections to leadership, but Bill Shorten has refused to ­acknowledge implications for his own position should Labor lose one or more seats.

Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has told FIVEaa's Leon Byner, Labor leader Bill Shorten (pictured above with Labor candidate Justine Keay) will be under great pressure if the Coalition wins one more of tomorrow's by-elections.

The Australian reports, both leaders yesterday flew into the northwest Tasmanian marginal seat of Braddon, one of five to be decided tomorrow, and campaigned within several city blocks of each other in Devonport.

The Prime Minister staked the contest on “jobs and growth” and the Labor leader on health funding, but both were repeatedly quizzed about the implications for their leadership.

With tight contests between the major parties in both Braddon and Longman, Queensland, the leaders have made multiple visits and pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in health, infrastructure and jobs funding.

Mr Turnbull initially refused to acknowledge the outcome in ­either marginal had implications for his political future, but when pushed conceded leadership was one issue being judged.

“By-elections are a test of policies, they’re a test of leaders, they’re a test of candidates, but there are many issues and people vote with different matters in mind,” he said.

Mr Shorten was asked if he was confident of remaining Labor leader if he lost a seat tomorrow. “Oh, listen — let’s try and talk about winning the seat,” he said.

Asked if he thought his leadership would be “cooked” if Labor lost both Braddon and Longman, Mr Shorten said: “No, I don’t. What I also accept is that the voters haven’t voted yet.”

Mr Shorten denied the decision of Anthony Albanese to campaign in Longman yesterday suggested the ambitious frontbencher was gunning for his job. “I’m really pleased that Anthony is out campaigning,” he said.

Mr Albanese gave a categorical “no” when asked whether he would challenge Mr Shorten for the Labor leadership in the event of a poor result tomorrow.

Polls suggest Braddon is on a knife edge and will be decided on preferences.

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