18 April 2016
by Shalailah Medhora

Polls spell trouble for Coalition as Turnbull's approval rating plummets

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull watches Opposition leader Bill Shorten speak

Coalition remains ahead on primary vote, but polls show Labor is level on two-party preferred measure.
Two opinion polls out on Monday spell trouble for the federal government, as it edges closer to a double-dissolution election.


A Newspoll, released in the Australian, shows the Coalition trailing Labor by two percentage points in the two-party preferred ratings, 49 to 51.

The primary vote has narrowed considerably since Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister, though the Coalition is still ahead 41% to Labor’s 36%.

Turnbull is still ahead of the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, in Newspoll’s preferred prime minister stakes, 47% to 28%, but he has plunged 17 percentage points since his November high of 64%.

The Newspoll shows Turnbull’s net approval rating has taken a nose-dive since 1 February, when he was sitting at 22%. The latest poll found a net approval rating of -13%.

An Ipsos poll, published by Fairfax Media, follows a similar pattern, showing the government and Labor neck and neck, at 50% each in the two-party preferred stakes. The polls have narrowed since the government’s high in November 2015, when the Coalition was ahead of Labor 56% to 44%.

The Ipsos poll puts Turnbull ahead of Shorten as preferred prime minister, 54% to 27%, though his net approval rating has dropped 10 percentage points since March.

The prime minister’s ratings on a number of leadership qualities have also fallen significantly. His rating on making things happen has plummeted 25%, while his perceived strength as a leader is down 20%.

Newspoll surveyed more than 1,600 people between Thursday and Sunday and has a margin of error of 2.3%.

Ipsos surveyed more than 1,400 people between Thursday and Saturday.

The finance minister, Matthias Cormann, backed the leader.

“Malcolm Turnbull is of course a leader who gets things done,” he told ABC Radio.

The attorney general, George Brandis, brushed aside the polls, saying they “always tighten” as voters got closer to polling day.

“The polls are pretty much where we would expect them to be in this stage of the cycle,” he told ABC Radio on Monday.

Labor too, was playing down the polling, by painting itself as the underdog.

Labor’s leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, said beating a one-term government was no easy feat.

“We all know how hard that mountain is to climb,” she told ABC Radio.

The government is entering a period of special sittings of parliament.

In March, Turnbull recalled both houses of Parliament in order to pass two contentious industrial relations bills. He has vowed to call a double-dissolution election on 2 July if they are not passed.

A July election is looking increasingly likely, as Labor, the Greens and the majority of the crossbench maintain their opposition to the bills in their existing forms.

“If they want an election, that’s what they’ll get,” Wong said. “We’re up for it.”

Motoring Enthusiast senator, Ricky Muir, whose electoral chances were drastically reduced when Senate voting reforms were passed in the previous sitting period, said the government was “going through the motion” by bringing the bills forward for debate.

“How serious the government is actually about passing this bill or whether this is more an operation for them to get to a double dissolution is the million dollar question at the moment. I do feel that we’re on the final countdown,” he told ABC TV.