Tony Abbott is in danger of losing his seat of Warringah to independent candidate Zali Steggall, according to a poll.

The Olympian is leading the former prime minister 54% to 46% on a two-party-preferred basis, according to a ReachTEL poll of 622 residents commissioned by activist group GetUp and published in the Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age on Sunday.

In the poll, 60% of the residents canvassed rated Abbott’s performance as a local member as “poor”. And 78% of those who had voted for him previously said they would vote for someone else.

GetUp is campaigning to oust Abbott from the Sydney northern beaches seat he has held for 25 years.

In an interview published Sunday, Abbott criticised his opponents in Warringah as “all negative”.

“I’m very much aware that one of the mooted independent candidates said that she was running to stop me becoming leader of the opposition and prime minister,” he said in reference to Alice Thompson, a former employee of Malcolm Turnbull, who has since pulled out of the contest to back Steggall.

“These people just can’t help themselves. They are all negative. They don’t know what they’re for, but by God, they know what they’re against.”

Steggall, who has vowed to fight Abbott on his stance on climate change, has also challenged Labor to adopt a more ambitious climate change policy and commit to blocking Adani’s Carmichael coalmine.

“The attention should be with renewables, technology, clean transport, clean energy – not projects like Adani,” she told Guardian Australia last week.

But on Sunday Abbott said “if you look at the polls, climate change rates no more strongly today than it did a decade or so back” and he also questioned Steggall’s climate change policy.

“What’s her policy on climate change? My government presided over policies which mean that we will overachieve our Kyoto target and we’re well and truly on track to achieve the Paris target. What’s her policy?” Abbott said.

“It’s quite possible [the Coalition] might go back to Direct Action and renew the Emissions Reduction Fund.”


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