Coalition trails Labor in latest newspoll1:04
The Coalition has lost further ground as it trails Labor 47 to 53 per cent for the 15th Newspoll in row.
MALCOLM Turnbull has lost ground to Bill Shorten as the nation’s preferred prime minister, according to the latest Newspoll data.
Mr Shorten gained on Mr Turnbull after weeks of Liberal party infighting but Mr Turnbull remains the preferred prime minster with 41 per cent of voters naming him over Shorten, who received 33 per cent of the support.
When challenging Tony Abbott for the prime ministership in September 2015, Mr Turnbull used the fact that the Coalition had lost 30 consecutive Newspolls as a rationale for the move.
Today’s Newspoll is the 15th consecutive poll in which the government has trailed Labor in two-party-preferred terms.
The Coalition’s primary vote has slipped from 36 to 35 per cent since the last Newspoll three weeks ago, taking it back to the level seen in early 2015 when Tony Abbott faced an “empty chair” spill against his leadership.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann conceded the government’s two-party position hadn’t changed.
“We’ve obviously got quite a bit more work to do to put ourselves in a position where we will be competitive for the next election and we will do that,” he told ABC radio on Monday.
But he argued given the fortnight the Coalition has had he thought Bill Shorten should be concerned he didn’t make more progress.
Mr Abbott has recently campaigned for change, seemingly destabilising the Liberal party in the eyes of voters.
At least one government backbencher, former Abbott backer Michelle Landry, urged the former prime minister to move on.
“There’s been talk about the job offer in London. There’s life after politics. He’s got a lot of knowledge. He has a lot to offer,” she told the Courier Mail .
Ms Landry only narrowly retained her seat of Capricornia, based on Rockhampton, at last year’s election and later described the Turnbull government as wishy-washy.
Staunch Abbott supporter Eric Abetz renewed his call for the former leader’s reinstatement to cabinet.
“Mr Abbott is a man that (sic) is committed to public life,” the veteran Liberal senator told reporters in Hobart.
“He has not pursued wealth, rather he has pursued public service and I believe he remains firmly committed to being of service.” Communications Minister Mitch Fifield urged all colleagues to focus on the task of doing the people’s business.
In terms of Australia’s third most popular party that continues to be One Nation, the Pauline Hanson-led party kept 11 per cent of voters in their corner, with the Greens enjoying the support of 10 per cent.
The new poll came as Mr Turnbull tried to downplay a growing rebellion in his party over same-sex marriage.
Liberal senator Dean Smith has publicly confirmed he is drafting a private members’ bill pushing to legalise same-sex marriage that he intends to bring before the Liberal party room in the coming months, Fairfax Media reported.
“The bill is important because it will allow the Liberal Party to revisit the issue of marriage once and for all before the next election,” Senator Smith told The Sunday Times in Perth.
“I don’t doubt the complexity same-sex-marriage presents for some Liberals, but I am not asking people to change their mind on the issue. Instead, we should allow everyone the right to vote according to their own conscience.”
Mr Turnbull said the move was not a surprise and will not shift the Coalition from its plebiscite policy.
Speaking to reporters in Paris on Sunday, Mr Turnbull said: “We support a plebiscite where all Australians will be given a vote on the matter. It is critical that all Australians be given a say and the only reason they haven’t been given that say is because of Bill Shorten.”
Mr Shorten said Senator Smith agrees with Labor and “I know deep down the prime minister agrees with Labor”.
“It’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to listen to Australians and his own MPs and senators and just get this done,” Mr Shorten told Fairfax Media.