Another fortnightly Newspoll, more bad news for Malcolm Turnbull. The Coalition still trails Labor 47% to 53% on a two-party preferred basis. This would give Labor a thumping victory if an election was held today. But what will be of most concern to Malcolm Turnbull is that it is the fifth Newspoll in a row that the two-party preferred vote has been at this level. This gives an indication that even so early in this electoral cycle, voters made up their minds on the government.
Also, Turnbull has now lost 15 Newspolls in a row, which is halfway to 30 Newspoll losses he sighted as justification for challenging Tony Abbott and he took as proof that the public had made up its mind about Abbott’s leadership. Turnbull probably now wishes he had never said that given that commentators were always going to use that as the benchmark to measure the strength of his own Prime Ministership.
Malcolm Turnbull is still the preferred Prime Minister over Bill Shorten 41% to 33%. However, this in reality is cold comfort as during Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership she was often the preferred Prime Minister over Tony Abbott, however the state of the two party preferred vote was so poor that she was dumped by her party by the more popular Kevin Rudd. Yet Tony Abbott and the Coalition still won the 2013 federal election in a landslide.
The Newspoll also follows recent Liberal internal party infighting with Tony Abbott speaking out in public over what he sees as the leftward drift of the Liberal Party and its members feeling disenfranchised by the leadership in Canberra. Tony Abbott has offered an alternative conservative manifesto which included freezing the renewable energy target, cuts to immigration and reforming the Senate to allow governments to get contentious budget measures through the Parliament.
However, the fact that two party preferred vote remains unchanged despite recent disunity would appear to hint that that government’s problems run deeper than just disunity. The Coalition is still the most trusted on economic leadership and national security and is the only party who can solve the energy crises currently plaguing our nation.
Australians are also concerned about the Islamization of the nation and political correctness. Yet the public want to vote in a party which will pledge this nation further into debt, open the borders to anyone who wants to come in, appease Islam, will restrict free speech and wants a 50% renewable energy target.
How do you explain this Newspoll result then? It is because the Coalition is not taking a tough enough stance on the issues that are its strengths. It’s current approach of Labor-lite and casting ideology aside clearly is the wrong strategy. By taking stronger action on curtailing spiralling energy costs and restricting the influx of Islamic immigration into Australia it would give voters a reason to feel that they stand for something and are looking after their interests.
The Coalition has successfully pursued such a strategy before, from 1998 until 2001 Labor was ahead of the Howard Government in almost every Newspoll. But Howard’s handling of border security and leadership in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks in the run up into the 2001 election saw him returned with an increased majority.
Would a change in policy direction require a change of leader? The polling does not suggest that. A recent Sky News poll showed that Malcolm Turnbull is still the preferred Liberal leader over Tony Abbott, not just by all voters but by Coalition voters. Even a Townsville audience for an episode of conservative commentator Paul Murray’s Sky News show displayed that they do not want a return to Tony Abbott.
But when (not an if) Malcolm Turnbull reaches 30 Newspoll losses in row then quite rightly his leadership will be called into question and both voters and Liberal MPs will start looking for alternatives. If Turnbull wants to save his job and Liberal MPs want to stay in government then standing up for the issues that matter to ordinary Australians is what will win them back.
The polling shows they are not that keen on Shorten, it’s just that they are not being given any reason to vote for the Coalition. Give them a reason, just praying that come the election the polls will magically turn around will not happen. A radical change in policy, if Turnbull has the will to do that is what is needed.