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Abbott's "absolute" guarantee on SA subs jobs

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has assured South Australians there will be more submarine jobs in their state even if he won’t commit to having a new fleet of vessels built there.

Abbott was responding to reports on Tuesday that some Liberal MPs fear a voter backlash against the coalition if the contract for Australia’s next-generation fleet goes to Japan.

A competitive evaluation process is under way for the contract, which could also be given to France or Germany.

“Whatever happens, I can give an absolute, categoric guarantee there will be more sub jobs in South Australia and I think that’s what South Australians understandably want,” Abbott told reporters in Sydney.

The process would deliver the best submarines at a fair and reasonable price, he said.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, who has been prominent in the push to get subs built in his home state, plans to field candidates in Liberal-held seats in SA in a bid to pressure the Coalition.

“I’m working very hard to get a number of really credible, strong lower house candidates,” he told Sky News from Japan.

The renewed concern from the Liberal backbench comes as a new poll shows state Labor is maintaining a comfortable lead over the Liberals in South Australia, despite growing unemployment and fears for the state’s economic future.

Jay Weatherill’s Government has already had political success on the back of concerns about submarine jobs, winning the by-election in the seat of Fisher in the wake of former Defence Minister David Johnston’s infamous “canoe” comments.

A Newspoll published in today’s Australian newspaper, shows support for the Weatherill Government remains strong.

The poll of 872 voters put Labor ahead 54-46 on a two-party preferred basis, the same as the previous poll earlier this year.

Weatherill has also increased his lead over Opposition Leader Steven Marshall as preferred premier with 48 per cent of voters backing Weatherill compared to 29 per cent for Marshall.

Labor was able to form government after the March 2014 election despite winning just 47 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.

Labor’s primary vote is marginally higher than at the state election – 36 per cent in this Newspoll compared to 35.8 per cent at the election. By comparison, the Liberal primary vote has plummeted. At the election it was 44.8 per cent but for the past three Newspolls it has been stuck at 33 per cent.

– with AAP

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