Labor has opened a 56-44% two-party lead and Scott Morrison’s net satisfaction rating has plunged 11 points in Newspoll, after a disastrous summer in which Omicron has ripped through most of the country and deaths have spiked.
The poll, published in The Australian and the first Newspoll of the year, found the government dropping behind Labor for the first time as better at leading Australia’s recovery out of the pandemic.
The Coalition primary vote fell 2 points to 34%, compared with the final Newspoll of 2021, while the ALP’s vote rose 3 points to 41%.
The large Labor two-party lead compares with its pre-Christmas lead of 53-47%, and if replicated at an election would bring a landslide loss for the Morrison government. The current 56-44% Labor lead is the biggest for the opposition since September 2018.
The total deaths of people with COVID so far this year is approaching 1500. Shortages of rapid Antigen tests and serious supply chain problems resulting in shortages on supermarket shelves have led to high levels of community frustration.
With parliament resuming next week for what is expected to be a difficult fortnight sitting for the government, the poll numbers will unsettle already worried Coalition backbenchers.
Anthony Albanese has almost closed the gap on Morrison as better prime minister in the poll – Morrison leads by 43% to 41%. This compares to Morrison’s 45-36% lead in December.
Net satisfaction with Morrison, down 11 points, is now minus 19, his lowest ranking since early 2020 after the bushfires.
His satisfaction is down 5 points to 39%; his dissatisfaction rating is up 6 points to 58%.
Albanese’s net satisfaction rating is zero. His approval increased 4 points to 43%; his disapproval fell 2 points.
One third (33%) thought Albanese would be better at leading the country’s recovery out of the pandemic, compared to 32% who opted for Morrison.
On who would be better at leading Australia on climate change, Albanese was on 39% and Morrison 21%.
On creating jobs and growth, Morrison led Albanese 33-31%, and on dealing with China Morrison was ahead of Albanese 31-26%.
Asked which of the several issues was the most important when deciding how they would vote, 38% chose coming out of the pandemic. It came in above creating jobs and growing the economy (26%), leading Australia’s response to climate change (21%), and dealing with the threat of China in the Asia-Pacific (10%).
Concerns with COVID were greatest in Queensland, which had been relatively protected before it saw infections and deaths rise sharply after opening its border: 38% of voters there said it was the most important issue when deciding who to vote for. This compared to 35% in NSW and 32% in Victoria.
The Greens were on 11% (up a point), Pauline Hanson’s One Nation was unchanged on 3%; independents and minor parties were down 2 point to 11%.
The national poll was conducted during January 25-28 with 1526 people.
Meanwhile the NSW government on Sunday sharply criticised the federal government for not financially contributing to a state support package for small and medium sized businesses that are being hit by the Omicron wave.
Unveiling the $1 billion package NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said “I was hoping to make this announcement standing beside Prime Minister today and the Treasurer. But they’re not to be found.”