The moment is finally here, Malcolm Turnbull has lost his 30th consecutive Newspoll as Prime Minister which has been released by The Australian. He has now matched the 30 Newspoll losses of his predecessor Tony Abbott which he used as justification for challenging him for the leadership in September 2015.
The details of the poll are the Coalition trials Labor two party preferred 48-52 with Malcolm Turnbull just ahead as preferred Prime Minister against Bill Shorten 38 to 37. Malcolm Turnbull’s net satisfaction is still minus 25. The Colaition’s primary vote is on 38 just ahead of Labor on 37. Malcolm Turnbull is preferred Liberal leader on 28%, Julie Bishop is just behind 27% and Tony Abbott is on 13%.
Baring a political miracle the 30th Newspoll loss was expected and kicked off fresh leadership speculation this week with a letter published by the newly formed Monash Forum made up of conservative Coalition backbenchers including Kevin Andrews, Tony Abbott and Eric Abetz who called on the Turnbull Government to invest $4 billion in a new coal fired power station in Victoria. There was also a Seven News report which stated that moderate Liberal MPs were beginning to desert Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.
The week ended with senior Turnbull Government Ministers and some backbenchers playing down the milestone of the 30th Newspoll loss and that there was no leadership threat to Malcolm Turnbull. Even former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard threw his support behind Turnbull urging the party to unite and not go through another turbulent leadership change.
Malcolm Turnbull today has stated “I do have the confidence of my colleagues and no-one is suggesting I don’t” and that “I regret making those remarks at the time, making the remarks about 30 Newspolls at the time. But what I promised to do what to provide economic leadership and traditional cabinet government and I have done both”.
Tony Abbott yesterday in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph asked for a please explain from the Liberal partyroom about why he was dumped after 30 Newspoll losses “As for that particular metric, that was not my metric and it is for others to explain the rhyme or the reason in it”. He also via Twitter rejected the allegation his government did not follow proper cabinet processes. Tony Abbott today said the government should focus on how it can perform better and defended his right to speak out on issues such as energy policy. “I’m a backbench member of parliament and backbenchers are free, within reason, to speak their mind”.
Some positive spin was put on a Fairfax Ipsos Poll of 1200 voters released on the weekend which showed the Coalition only 48-52 behind Labor based on preferences at the last election, but when calculated on how those polled would allocate preferences now it becomes 50-50. On the question of leadership 62% of those polled said that the Liberal Party should stick with Turnbull while 28% said they should change. When the poll is broken down by Coalition voters 74% want Malcolm Turnbull to remain while only 21% want a change.
The only thing saving Turnbull at the moment is the fact that he is still preferred Liberal leader although the Coalition is trailing in the polls. However the Coalition and Malcolm Turnbull will continue to lose Newspolls and the leadership speculation will continue. As it gets close to the next election that is when the panic will set in among Liberal MPs and a change in leadership will start to be considered more seriously.