Storm coming: Treasurer Wayne Swan and Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Parliament on Monday. Photo: Andrew Meares
Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan looks set to lose his Brisbane seat of Lilley, with internal polling suggesting Labor will struggle to retain any Queensland seats at the September 14 federal election.
In a result even worse than the 1996 ''baseball bats'' election, when Labor was reduced to two of the then 26 seats in Queensland, Labor may retain only one MP - former prime minister Kevin Rudd.
The Queensland polling, taken in recent weeks in Mr Swan's seat of Lilley, is believed to show Mr Swan's primary vote has collapsed to just 28 per cent, compared with 41 per cent at the last election.
Bright days ahead?: Kevin Rudd. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Mr Swan has held the seat since 1998, although at the last election his margin narrowed from 8 per cent to 3.2 per cent, with a 10 per cent fall in his primary vote.
A senior Labor source told Fairfax that on the current polling Labor was likely to lose all of its remaining seats to the north of the Brisbane River, blaming animosity towards Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The regional seat of Capricornia, held by a margin of 3.7 per cent, is seen as ''gone for all money''. Labor is also likely to lose the seats of Moreton, held by 1.1 per cent, Lilley, held by 3.2 per cent, and Petrie, held by 2.5 per cent.
According to the analysis, a best-case scenario is that Labor retains four of its Queensland seats, including Blair, Rankin, Oxley and Mr Rudd's seat of Griffith. Such a result would still be better than the outcome in 1996.
The big question, according to party strategists, is whether Labor will retain the seats of Blair, Oxley and Rankin. Only Griffith is seen as safe. A ''worst case'' is that Labor is left with one seat in Queensland.
''The best result we can hope for is [retaining] four out of eight seats,'' the source said. ''The worst is holding only one seat. Queensland does produce some big swings. In 1996 we only held two seats.''
The poll was conducted by the Queensland branch of the Labor Party. It involved a relatively small sample of 250 voters in Lilley using a new, less costly methodology, which was not adopted more generally. But it comes amid growing pessimism within Labor ranks about the chances of avoiding a wipeout.
Mr Swan's spokesman said the story was based on a "thoroughly unsourced poll" lacking credibility. "It is complete rubbish."
A senior Labor source said the result was "completely credible", although there was a margin of error.
The Labor MP for Moreton, Graham Perrett, said Opposition Leader Tony Abbott had stopped visiting his electorate. ''There was a time there when Tony Abbott was visiting more times than my [Liberal National Party] opponent, but he seems to have deserted Moreton,'' he said. ''Maybe these supposed polling results suggest why this is so.''
Labor MPs in Victoria have also warned of double-digit swings. The party is seen as particularly vulnerable in seats to the south and south-east of Melbourne, including Deakin, La Trobe and Chisholm.
The dire polling news from Queensland and Victoria comes as another national poll shows Labor is headed for a landslide loss and Mr Abbott has again moved ahead of Ms Gillard as preferred PM.
The poll, published in News Ltd newspapers on Tuesday, shows Mr Abbott has improved three points in the two weeks since the last poll to achieve a 43 per cent result among voters, while Ms Gillard has weakened four points to 35 per cent.
The poll shows voters are sticking with the Coalition as the September elections nears, with the opposition's primary vote improving three points to 49 per cent - a three-month high - compared with Labor's 30 per cent, down one point.
On a two-party preferred basis, the opposition holds a commanding 16-point lead - 58 per cent (up two points) to Labor's 42 per cent (down two points).