Tony Abbott Faces Fresh Leadership Speculation As Polling Shows Canning By-Election Margin Narrows

14/09/2015 5:32 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is battling renewed leadership speculation in the run up to what may be a bruising by-election result.

Despite Abbott's claims he's "not going to play these Canberra insider games," many senior Liberals, including staunch Abbott supporters now believe a challenge is inevitable.

Fairfax-Ipsos and News Limited Galaxy polling predict a double-digit swing of 10 percent against the Government, reducing the once-safe Liberal seat to a narrow margin of just 2 per cent after preferences.

Fairfax claims senior Liberals have set a new benchmark for the Prime Minister, claiming a swing greater than 5 percent will trigger a second leadership spill.

As one Minister told the ABC, "I think this time they'll get him".

Channel 9 reported that Abbott informed News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch of his plan to call a double dissolution election, as soon as possible after the Canning poll.

While visiting WA on the weekend, Abbott was heckled by a motorist who yelled, "you're all a bunch of w**nkers".

The Government trails Labor in the wider opinion polls 54 percent to 46 percent.

And then there's the matter of a challenger.

On Sunday, it emerged Malcolm Turnbull has been lobbied by colleagues, including Liberal whip Andrew Nikolic, to publicly rule out any intention of moving on Abbott.

Fairfax has reported a number of Turnbull's supporters are privately urging him to challenge Abbott this week.

Damaging headlines and dismal by-election polling will ensure another difficult week for the Government. As one minister told ABC, "everybody is quite jumpy and despondent".

Parliament is sitting this week ahead of the Canning byelection on Saturday. After that, there is a three-week break in which bringing the party back to Canberra to vote on a spill motion would be problematic.

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