Clive Palmer candidate wants to preference Tony Abbott in a blow to Zali Steggall | Australia news

Zali Steggall’s campaign to snatch the seat of Warringah from Tony Abbott has been dealt a blow, with Clive Palmer’s candidate indicating she wants to preference the Liberals above the independent.

With the Australian Electoral Commission to formally declare candidates and the ballot draw for each electorate on Wednesday, negotiations are under way with Palmer about how he will direct his preferences.

Polling shows his United Australia party, which has spent an estimated $30m on television advertising, could determine the outcome in a host of marginal seats, recording between 5% and 14% of the primary vote, according to Newspolls in four seats, published in the Australian.

Suellen Wrightson, United Australia’s candidate in Warringah, said she did not want the party to help the “GetUp mob” in the northern Sydney seat.

GetUp is campaigning against several Coalition members, including Abbott, largely on the issue of climate change.

“In my opinion, it is a choice between the Liberal party and the GetUp mob – that is my personal view at this point in time,” Wrightson told Guardian Australia.

“I really do believe that these other activist groups are not a registered political party and they are not subject to the same things as us – it is really unfair.

“I will not support the GetUp mob [and] I will let the people of Warringah work out what that means – they are a smart and sophisticated electorate.”

Wrightson was a Senate candidate for the Palmer United party in 2013 and served on the Cessnock city council from 2012 to 2015.

At the 2013 election, the PUP candidate, Brodie Stewart, secured only 2.2% of the vote in Warringah, while Abbott secured 61% of first preferences.

Christopher Buttel, United Australia’s candidate in the western Sydney seat of Lindsay, which the Liberals are hoping to win from Labor, said he did not care which major party Palmer decided to preference.

“We are there to fight the duopoly. They are both equally complicit and I don’t distinguish between the two of them. That is why I am in the United Australia party.”

Buttel said he would have no say in how his preferences were allocated.

“The first I will know about it is when my how-to-vote cards are delivered to my door,” he said.

In Lindsay at the 2013 election – the last time Palmer ran for federal parliament – PUP secure 5.15% of the primary vote. The Newspoll published this week, which had a margin of error of between 3.9% and 4.3%, showed the UAP polling 7% of the primary vote in Lindsay.

Both major parties are in talks with Palmer about a potential preference deal, but Liberal strategists believe they will be able to clinch an agreement with the maverick Queenslander for the UAP to preference the Liberals and Nationals in marginal seats in exchange for support in the Senate, where Palmer himself is standing for the UAP.

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