Battle Stations: Newspoll’s 55-45 To Labor A Call To Arms For The Liberals

THE CEASELESS fall in Coalition support under Malcolm Turnbull over the past year has continued in the latest Newspoll; now lagging by ten points, attempts to claim Turnbull’s leadership of the Liberal Party remains viable are dubious indeed. It makes the changes called for in this column yesterday all the more urgent, and suggests that even if they are forthcoming, Turnbull — and the Coalition’s hold on government — may be doomed anyway.

Eight down, 22 to go…

Today’s Newspoll — published in The Australian, with comment and tables accessible here and here — might not be so bad for the Turnbull government if it had used the authority from its re-election last year to introduce a painful mini-budget, or some other measure to aright the haemorrhaging federal budget, or to do something to introduce a reform program, even if that proved unpopular; the problem of course is that in the aftermath of last year’s election, the government and the PM have little to no authority anyway, and the disastrous position they confront in the polls has been arrived at with virtually nothing to show for it.

My remarks this morning will be relatively brief (I am off to Sydney for the day, and have a plane to catch) but it does seem that the discussion opened in this column yesterday — calling for a radical overhaul of the way the Coalition is conducting itself in office, and the personnel with which it is doing so — was very timely indeed and, if anything, the findings of this latest Newspoll suggest the changes I called for are more urgently required than ever.

When we last had a Newspoll to dissect three weeks ago, I suggested Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership of the Liberal Party might be doomed, and have since opined that that poll represented the point at which he (and the government) might have passed the point of no return; today’s numbers will do little to ameliorate this growing perception, and it seems only a matter of time now before conservative Liberal MPs at least countenance a leadership change.

The two-party result of 55% recorded by Labor in today’s poll is the highest lead for the ALP since 2010, shortly after Julia Gillard called that year’s election; more ominously for the government, the primary vote it is harvested from — just 34% — is the lowest Coalition primary vote recorded by Newspoll since…well, since Malcolm was leading the Liberal Party last time, when a series of bad judgements and inadvisable pronouncements led to a collapse in the Coalition’s standing and prompted speculation then-PM Kevin Rudd would call a double dissolution election.

It all seems so long ago, but it all seems so fresh in the memory.

With just 29% of Newspoll respondents approving and 59% disapproving of Turnbull’s performance, the PM is now less popular than predecessor Tony Abbott prior to his overthrow at the hands of Turnbull’s minions in 2015: hardly a ringing endorsement of the wisdom of that change.

Even Turnbull’s lead over Bill Shorten as “preferred PM” has continued to evaporate, and now stands at just 7%, and has gone from convincing, to solid, to now barely being “clear.”

There is a lot of comment (and not least in The Australian itself, which is decidedly pro-Turnbull in these matters) that the outburst last week from Tony Abbott, combined with a rise in support for One Nation, are responsible for the ongoing erosion of the government’s position, but I beg to differ: to all appearances, the Coalition isn’t behaving or acting like a government at all, and this — coupled with minor but high-impact events such as the defection of Cory Bernardi and the poor look of Turnbull’s confrontation with US President Donald Trump, no matter the spin placed upon them — are proving far more deleterious than the predictable musings of a disgruntled former PM.

In fact, just about the only bright spot for Turnbull today is the standing of opposition “leader” Shorten, whose net approval rating of -26% is barely better than Turnbull’s: yet the fact it is better at all, considering the low calibre of the opponent Turnbull faces, is an indictment in itself.

And as I have said for some time now, any move by the ALP to change leaders should be interpreted as a sign it is serious about winning the next election; with the ALP primary vote now back to 37% — the level at which Gillard was able to harvest a minority government, and its highest in some years — that time cannot be far away either.

This Newspoll also marks the point at which just one marker from Turnbull’s disastrous first stint as Liberal leader remains to be covered anew: the two-party result of 45% is a single percentage point better than the average result recorded between September 2008 and November 2009 of 44%. It is as bad now as that.

Suffice to say, it’s time for Turnbull to get his skates on if he wants to outrun a near-certain leadership challenge or, further down the track, a near-certain bloodbath at the polling stations.

The course of remedial action outlined in this column not just yesterday, but for months, is the only viable way in which Turnbull may salvage his Prime Ministership — and the only way any potential replacement may salvage the government’s standing at all.

But that would take common sense, hard work, the will to develop and fight for sweeping policy reform and, most importantly, the ability to connect with the electorate to sell it, and it is increasingly the case that none of these attributes appear evident even on a generous reading of the government’s strengths.

We are about to find out just how hungry Malcolm really is to remain Prime Minister, and just how important it is to Coalition MPs to stay in office beyond an election certain to occur by May 2019.

On the former count, I’m not convinced, but on the latter, the mutterers have been muttering now for some time. This morning, you can almost hear them sharpening their knives.

I will attempt to comment further when I get back from Sydney tonight, but if I miss, I will catch up with readers later in the week. Tomorrow and Wednesday see me on another trip — this time to Brisbane. Such is life. 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Battle Stations: Newspoll’s 55-45 To Labor A Call To Arms For The Liberals

  1. As long as the Lieberal RWNJ’s hold the party in their ultra-con thrall it will ever be thus. The party as it stands is no longer viable and we watch it’s death throes. As one who is disgusted by it’s self-serving self-interest dogma and enslavement by big business to the detriment of the Australian’s it professes to serve, ots demise cannot come soon enough for me!

  2. My unimportant thoughts are that Turnbull just does not know what to do!
    In his eyes:
    It was never supposed to be like this;
    He was never supposed to actually work;
    He was never supposed to get down and actually mix and talk with those – you know- voters;
    No one was supposed to deny or even doubt his brilliance and personality;
    Everyone was supposed to know that he was superior in every way to everyone else in the country without question or doubt;
    No one was supposed to even believe for a second that he was not a super being;
    Everyone was supposed to love, cherish and obey him because, simply because, he was… Malcolm Turnbull.
    The fact that almost none of the above have occurred, has left him with no plan, because he never had a plan to start with. It was all supposed to “just happen.”
    Even a pre-run at leader exposed his plan as being nothing but smoke, and revealed nothing to him.
    It was not supposed to be like this! The stupid part is that so many of his colleagues think the same!

  3. There is only ONE solution DUMP the FIZZA and that is to re-stall Tony Abbott as PM. Yes he has made some silly mistakes but I believe he has learnt from those mistakes.

    What really riles me, the FIZZA has the temerity to blame Abbott for the down turn in the polls. As usual blame every one but yourself.

    • Turnbull is a walking dead man but reinstalling Clownshoes will do little if anything, the trenchant criticism from Cormann, Pyne and other Libs of Abbott’s manifesto is hardly matched by the support he is getting from Craig Kelly, Abetz and the other lightweights – it is a party riven from within and all Labor has to do is sit back and watch them self destruct.

  4. There is no solution helpful to the Libs here. Keep Lord Waffle of Wentworth and get truly toasted at the next election. And it will be a roasted toasting resulting in a complete mess of a parliament full of odds and sods that will be the product of protest votes. Or get rid of Lord Waffle and lose the next election by a landslide. (Noting that reinstalling Abbott will not avoid the landslide – the media will treat him the way they did when he was still PM – the same way as they treat Trump).
    So, it is too late. No matter what they do they are stuffed. And Australia with it. And it is all thanks the outsized ego of Lord Waffle the serial leaker and underminer.

  5. I mostly agree with you.
    Its interesting tho, the media sniffs out genuine conservatives…(the ones that believe in monitoring immigration, taking care of your own nation, sovereign borders and so on)
    And they seek to destroy them systematically…as they did with Abbott.
    Obviously the reason is they are supporters of superstates, the EU, organisations like the UN, global warming and Carbon Taxes and so on…that’s their religion…or more accurately, their cult.
    But what’s happening with Trump is interesting, when the media attacked Abbott, he never really fought back.,.whereas Trump is taking the fight right to the media, hitting hard and often and at this point he appears to be winning, faith in the MSM in the US is at an all time low.

    Because of blogs etc..people know a lot more than they used to, those that can be bothered doing some research…for example CNN is at least partly owned by the UAE United Arab Emirates…you know those places that are governed by Sharia, and systematically abuse human rights.
    The NYT over 12 years ago decided that Islam was by and large, to never be criticised…so Americans are able to sense this and because of the internet, they know that these institutions are not the free press at all, they are propaganda institutions…and definitely not American in any way.
    If Tony took the reins, and then took the fight to the press ( no more Mr Nice guy) I believe people would support him…Pauline Hanson for example…is not a great intellect, she doesn’t seem too clued up on policies, but she does have balls, and some basic common sense even if you don’t agree with her.
    If Abbott was able to harness some of that (I am sure he sees it…both here and overseas) then he has a chance.
    He has to fight in other words, the press and the establishment are no friends of true nationalists …they are more or less the sworn enemies.
    If you don’t fight back, you look weak, you simply don’t let them drive the narrative…that’s fatal.
    But personally I don’t think Tony has the spine for it, and the perfumed Aunty wish washy Turnbull certainly doesn’t…he’s part of it.

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