• Hannah Phillips

Done and Dusted: The Government Loses Thirty Newspolls in a Row

This morning revealed the seemingly inevitable fact that the government had lost its thirtieth straight Newspoll.

As he set off on the Pollie Pedal from Melbourne, Tony Abbott denied that he was promoting a change of leadership.

He said that, while he might challenge the government when he believed that policy could be improved because he wanted it to be the best it could be, he saw stability of the Coalition government and the defeat of Bill Shorten as priorities.

The prospects are not totally dismal for the government: over the weekend an Ipsos Fairfax poll, which allocates preferences on the basis of survey responses, had the Coalition and Labor at 50 - 50 on a two party preferred basis.

If the Newspoll methodology is applied, allocating preferences according to the way they flowed at the last election, then the two party result is Labor 52 to the Coalition’s 48.

Over the weekend the government’s leadership group rallied around the Prime Minister.

Julie Bishop said that she was not contemplating a challenge even though, as reported in Friday’s Inside Canberra, she has the support necessary to roll Malcolm Turnbull as leader.

Scott Morrison was out in the media yesterday saying that the government was not concerned about the polls and was busy getting on with the job of governing the country.

The Prime Minister’s trying to play down the Newspoll results, arguing that they are insignificant in the light of his government’s achievements.

“What the Australian people want me to do is to get on with delivering and governing, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said on Friday.

The Prime Minister maintains that voters want the world to move on from an argument about opinion polls that obsesses the political class but means nothing to those who want a better job or a wage increase.

“People are frustrated by the inside-the-beltway political commentary. When they see a news story that’s about personalities or polls it disappoints them again because they’d rather be talking about the economy, about jobs,” he said.

Malcolm Turnbull has another problem to confront before the next election.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has announced a redistribution which has created new electorates in Victoria – Fraser in Melbourne’s western suburbs – and the Australian Capital Territory – Bean in Canberra’s south.

This gives Labor a three seat gain: the two new seats and Dunkley which has been transformed from a notionally Liberal seat to a notionally Labor one.

The Victorian seat of Corangamite, held by a Liberal star Sarah Henderson, has been transformed into a seat that is too close to call.

The situation could worsen if the AEC decides to abolish the seat of Mayo in South Australia as part of the redistribution.

The Liberals hope to regain the seat, particularly if the Nick Xenophon Team’s Rebekkah Sharkie is out of the running because of dual citizenship problems.

South Australia has to lose a seat because of its declining population.

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