It marked the 50th Newspoll, in a row, the Government has lost with the two-party preferred result, placing Labor ahead of the Coalition, 54 to 46.
The poll had the Government with a primary vote of 36 versus 39 for the ALP. In 2016 the Turnbull Government won a one seat majority with 43% of the primary vote. This is the fundamental challenge for the Government – their primary vote is too low to win.
The last fortnight saw the Government campaigning hard on the economy and border security, with little apparent impact on their electoral standing. It also makes the Ipsos poll from a month ago look like an aberration rather than a change in sentiment towards the Government.
Energy policy continues to divide the government, bedevilling many prime ministers and governments alike, starting with Kevin Rudd back in 2010.
Regardless of the party in government, energy policy – synonymous for climate change policy – continues to dog the government-of-the-day.
For Rudd and Gillard, it was putting a price on Carbon, for the Liberals it is renewables versus coal and committing to action like the Paris agreement.
This week saw former Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce actively calling for a Government funded coal fired power station in central Queensland.
While it might be popular in central Queensland, for southern Liberals in leafy progressive seats, where climate change is seen as a real issue requiring a real response, calls for Government funded coal power stations is not exactly a vote winner.
Joyce has also caused more leadership heartache by saying he is ready and willing to serve as Nationals leader should the position become vacant.
This set off another round of leadership speculation within the Government and in particular the National Party, just two months before the federal election and less than two weeks before the NSW state election.
For a Government that has had 3 Prime Ministers in 3 years, the last thing it needs is a constant reminder of leadership instability, but Joyce’s support for a coal fired power station made sure it was front page news, drowning out any other Government message.
Bill Shorten announced this week that a Labor Government could seek to legislate a living wage by changing the law to compel the Fair Work Commission to set a higher minimum wage.
While there are competing economic views on whether a higher minimum wage would price workers out of the market, the issue plays right into Labor’s fair go agenda.
The Government attacked the plan with the Prime Minister stating, “I don’t think Australians want to see their co-workers sacked for them to do better. But that is Bill Shorten’s plan for Australia. To set one Australian against another. He is engaged in this war of envy on Australians.”
With many Australians experiencing low to stagnating wage growth, Labor is all too happy to be seen championing higher minimum wages in the face of Government opposition.
Until next week
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jody Fassina is the Managing Director of Insight Strategy and has served as a strategic adviser to MedTech and pharmaceutical stakeholders.