Coalition ministers have been rolled out to defend the federal government and the Prime Minister’s poor standing in the polls, after support for both slumped further.
The opposition is ahead 56-44 on a two-party-preferred basis – the Coalition’s worst polling performance since September 2018 – according to the latest Newspoll survey conducted for The Australian newspaper.
As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, Labor has increased its lead since the last poll on December 6 when it was ahead 53-47.
Labor’s primary vote is up three points to 41 per cent while the Coalition has dropped two points to 34 per cent.
For the first time, more voters surveyed thought Labor was better placed to steer Australia out of the COVID-19 pandemic (33 per cent) compared with the coalition (32 per cent).
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the pandemic made things tough but economic growth and a low unemployment rate were signs of good economic management.
“We’re going to come out of this better than so many other parts of the world,” he told the Seven Network following the poll’s release.
Acting Education Minister Stuart Robert said the only poll that mattered was the one on election day.
“It’s been a tough two years. It’s been difficult, it’s been frustrating for everyone. I understand people’s frustrations,” he told Sky News.
“[But] polls come and go. I’ve heard all of those things three years ago as well. We will keep turning up and do a world leading response to a one-in-100 year pandemic.”
Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon said the swing against the government showed that Australians are angry at how Prime Minister Scott Morrison had led the pandemic response.
“They are still struggling economically. They don’t have the freedoms they were promised by now and all they hear is more complacent spin from the Prime Minister,” he told the Seven Network.
“No wonder they’re angry.”
In more bad news for the government, Mr Morrison’s net satisfaction rating plummeted 11 points to -19 while Labor Leader Anthony Albanese’s rose out of negative figures to zero.
Mr Albanese has also narrowed the gap between his rival for preferred prime minister to just 43-41 in favour of Mr Morrison, from 45-36 at the last poll.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said there was a message in the data that Australians were angry their summer had been disrupted but “the overarching fundamentals of the economy and our health settings are very strong”.
“We have got to look through some of the current challenges that we face and look to the rest of the year with confidence and hope knowing that we are well placed,” he told the ABC.
“There is still a number of months to the next election. Many political obituaries were written ahead of the 2019 election and many false prophecies were made and they turned out to be wrong. So no one should get ahead of themselves.”
The survey of 1526 voters indicated a lift to the Greens’ primary vote of one point to 11 per cent, while One Nation stayed steady on 3 per cent.
Support for the independents and minor parties slipped two points to 11 per cent, according to the poll, which was conducted online between January 25-28.
A federal election must be held by the end of May.