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Voters back Brough over Slipper despite court ruling

Mal Brough speaks to the media after winning the Fisher preselection in July.

Mal Brough speaks to the media after winning the Fisher preselection in July. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

FORMER speaker Peter Slipper would be walloped in an election, with less than 3 per cent of voters saying they would vote for him, according to a poll in his Queensland seat of Fisher.

Three-quarters said they had an unfavourable opinion of him, when questioned a day after the judge threw out the sexual harassment case, brought by Mr Slipper's then staffer James Ashby, as an abuse of process.

Liberal National Party candidate Mal Brough polled 48.4 per cent; the Labor candidate 21.2 per cent, the Greens 11.7 per cent and Katter's Australian Party 7.4 per cent in Thursday night's ReachTEL poll of 661 commissioned by Fairfax Media and conducted by automated phone calls.

Mr Slipper confirmed on Friday that he intends to contest the election.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on Friday defended Mr Brough, who Judge Steven Rares said had acted with Mr Ashby and another in pursuing a political attack on Mr Slipper to advance the interests of Mr Brough and the Queensland Liberal National Party.

Asked why he would not have Mr Brough disendorsed, Mr Abbott, who is in London, said he understood the case was under appeal, and Mr Brough had been ''quite transparent and upfront about his involvement''.

The Opposition Leader said he had had no role ''whatsoever'' in the case against Mr Slipper. ''I had no specific knowledge of the details of the claims against Mr Slipper until I read about them in the paper''.

But Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Mr Abbott was ''using weasel words'' and fudging to avoid the questions. She said Mr Brough had been anything but transparent - he initially had lied when asked about his involvement.

Mr Abbott ''has to extract himself and his political party from the filth they're rolling in and the only way of doing that will be by coming clean'', she said.

Mr Abbott was good at calling on others to make full statements, she said, citing the AWU affair on which she had held two long press conferences, and taken questions in Parliament. ''If that's the standard for something that happened 17 years ago and has absolutely no implications for public life today, what's the standard for this? Well, 100 times more and Mr Abbott ought to acquit himself of that obligation.''

Liberal parliamentary secretary Arthur Sinodinos said if there were any questions out of the judgment, they were for Mr Brough to answer, rather than for senior Coalition members.

Despite Mr Brough's strong showing in the poll, 37.7 per cent said his involvement in the investigation made them less likely to support him at the election, while 22.6 per cent said they were more likely to vote for him. Nearly four in 10 said it would not affect their vote.

Ms Gillard will be on holidays next week.

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