Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ruled out calling an early election despite being on the cusp of a 30th-consecutive opinion poll showing the government lagging the opposition.
“The election will be next year, I can assure you,” Mr Turnbull told the AFR business summit in Sydney on Wednesday.
“There is no plan, intention or consideration given to doing anything other than having an election at the usual time, which will be in the first half of 2019.”
On Sunday night, Mr Turnbull lost his 28th straight Newspoll, published by The Australian newspaper, since taking the Lodge. It had the Coalition trailing Labor 53 to 47 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
Fast approaching is the infamous “30 Newspolls” benchmark set by Mr Turnbull himself when he used it to justify overthrowing his predecessor Tony Abbott.
“We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row. It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership,” he said in 2015 when challenging for the leadership.
Greg Hunt says PM has ‘full support’ despite poll losses:
In turn, Mr Abbott has warned Mr Turnbull that he will have to explain why he should not immediately resign if he hits the 30 Newspoll benchmark.
“It was the Prime Minister who set this test and, I guess if he fails the test, it will be the Prime Minister who will have to explain why the test was right for one and not right for the other,” he told 2GB radio this week.
The latest Newspoll reported a three-point hit to Mr Turnbull’s once-unassailable title as most preferred PM, leaving him with a bare 37 to 35 per cent lead over Labor leader Bill Shorten.
Mr Turnbull started February with a 14-point lead as preferred prime minister but it has collapsed by 12 points after a string of scandals, including the Barnaby Joyce affair and the fallout from alleged leaks to the media from Senator Michaelia Cash’s office during the Australian Workers Union raid.
The earliest possible date for the House of Representatives and half-Senate election is August 4, 2018. The latest possible date is May 18, 2019. Elections are always held on a Saturday.
The last federal election was a double dissolution election held on July 2, 2016. Australian elections are generally held every three years, but can be called earlier.