Tony Abbott’s grip on the prime ministership was further weakened by a series of political missteps last week, with a new poll showing the Coalition on track for an electoral wipeout if he remains Prime Minister.
A Fairfax-Ipsos poll published late on Sunday revealed the Coalition would have been swept from office on the back of a devastating 7.5 per cent swing had an election been held at the weekend.
The poll showed the government remained unpopular on issues such as marriage equality, for which public support remained high at 69 per cent, and global warming, where nearly six in 10 voters thought the policy response to date had been “too little”, Fairfax Media reported.
The poll, of 1402 respondents taken from August 13 to 15, also showed that Malcolm Turnbull had a comfortable lead over Mr Abbott as the most popular choice as Liberal leader and Prime Minister across all major voter groups.
The poll followed a horror week for the Coalition, including the claim expenses crises embroiling Bronwyn Bishop and other MPs, internal party divisions about same-sex marriage, and allegations of bias within its trade unions royal commission.
On a two-party-preferred basis, support for the government remained in the basement at eight percentage points behind Labor on 46-54, Fairfax Media reported.
The poll comes as Mr Abbott announced on Sunday that the Federal Government planned to expand a Victorian initiative by asking people to “dob in a drug dealer” and the locations of drug labs, as part of its war on the drug ice.
The ‘Dob in a Dealer’ campaign has been allocated $1 million in funding and was modelled on a similar program run by Crime Stoppers Victoria – which had resulted in a 100 to 400 per cent increase in information coming in about drug dealers.
This complements the National Ice Taskforce, announced by Mr Abbott in April, to help co-ordinate and assess local, state and federal government efforts to address the drug, and identify ways to improve education, health and law enforcement.
“Whether it’s overseas at source, whether it’s here on our border, or whether it’s in the community, we need to mobilise against drugs,” Mr Abbott said on Sunday.
“There are no excuses for illegal drugs, no excuses.”
Mr Abbott ruled out financial rewards for people dobbing in ice dealers but hoped they would do so out of a sense of duty.
He said lives were destroyed when people became enslaved to drugs and the Federal Government would do whatever it took to keep Australia safe.
“We’re simply talking about giving more opportunity and encouragement to do the right thing by our community,” Mr Abbott said.
Labor Senator Sam Dastyari said the announcement was a “desperate stunt” from a government looking for a distraction.
Meanwhile, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said the hotline would not work effectively without mandatory rehabilitation being considered, similar to what was done in Sweden.
“I want more than just a start, I actually want a resolution of this issue,” Mr Xenophon said.
“If you want to tackle it effectively, you need to have a system where there is mandatory rehab.
“There ought to be a system in place where (addicts) can be assessed in terms of an intervention.”
Mr Xenophon said dobbed in drug dealers should also have their assets seized if the authorities really wanted to make a dent in supply.
‘No one is immune’
Last week, Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie bravely revealed her son’s ice addiction in a speech to Parliament.
“I am a senator of Australia and I have a 21-year-old son that has a problem with ice, and yet even with my title I have no control over my son,” Ms Lambie said.
“I can’t involuntarily detox my own son, because I am not talking to my son anymore, I’m talking to a drug.”
National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre director Jan Copeland told the ABC that the prevalence of ice use among middle- to high-income Australians was proof that no one was safe from becoming addicted.
“Ice use and ice addiction can happen to anyone, no family or person is immune from the temptation,” she said.
– with AAP