Opposition Leader Bill Shorten Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has spent the first fortnight back at work for 2016 visiting marginal electorates. Photo: Graham Tidy
Shorten’s chief spin doctor exits
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s lead over Bill Shorten as voters’ choice as better prime minister has grown a whopping 19 per cent over the Christmas and New Year break, with the Opposition Leader plunging to his lowest ever rating in a ReachTEL poll conducted for the Seven Network.
Asked who they thought made a better prime minister, 80.8 per cent of voters nominated Mr Turnbull and just 19.2 per cent nominated Mr Shorten, whereas on November 26, 71.3 per cent of respondents had nominated Mr Turnbull and 28.7 per cent chose Mr Shorten.
A Fairfax-Ipsos poll conducted in November found that Mr Turnbull led Mr Shorten as preferred prime minister 69 per cent to 18 per cent.
The Coalition’s 10 percentage point lead over Labor in the two-party preferred vote has not changed, according to the poll of 3116 people conducted on January 21, with the same 55-45 result as the last ReachTEL poll conducted on November 26 last year.
The primary votes of the ALP, the Liberal Party, the Greens and the Nationals have barely shifted in the last two months.
Mr Turnbull has largely remained out of the political spotlight over the last month – though he did emerge to deal with the resignations of junior ministers Jamie Briggs and Mal Brough – and he has been in Iraq and then the United States in the last week.
He is due to return to Canberra on Sunday, cabinet will meet next week and Parliament is due to resume in 11 days time in a year that promises a tax reform package, other major policy announcements from both sides and an election likely in the second half of the year.
Back on September 15, after Mr Turnbull first took the nation’s top political job from Tony Abbott, 38.3 per cent backed Mr Shorten and 61.9 per cent backed Mr Turnbull, underscoring the precipitous fall in the Opposition Leader’s support.
Against Mr Abbott on August 28, Mr Shorten had led 57.9 per cent to 42.1 per cent.
Asked to rate the Prime Minister’s performance, 53.6 per cent of voters said it was good or very good, 33.8 per cent said it was satisfactory and 12.5 per cent said it was poor or very poor.
But just 13.8 per cent of respondents said Mr Shorten was doing a good or very good job, 28.8 per cent said they were satisfied and 57.4 per cent said his performance was poor or very poor.
The findings will add weight to the argument of a small core of critics of Mr Shorten inside the ALP that a change of leader may be necessary in the election year to shore up support for the party.
However, at the moment, there is a clear view within the ALP that the party must repair its reputation after the tumultuous Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years and stick with its current leader.
In addition, many Labor MPs question whether another leader – be it Anthony Albanese, Tanya Plibersek, Chris Bowen or someone else – would make any difference.
Mr Shorten has been campaigning around the country against an increase in the GST – a policy which has not yet actually been announced by the federal government and which may not be – and conducting a series of town hall meetings around the country.
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