Joyce’s stern warning to Turnbull
BARNABY Joyce says Malcolm Turnbull has an obligation to listen to voters and avoid driving the Liberal Party "off the cliff".
The former deputy prime minister told Sky News the Coalition's first priority should be the upcoming federal budget on May 8.
Earlier today, Mr Turnbull said he now regrets using 30 consecutive Newspoll losses as a reason for dumping Tony Abbott, but insisted his party room is behind him.
Mr Joyce told presenter Peta Credlin the Coalition needed to "get the budget out of the way and focus on why it's a good budget for Australia.
"We have a budget coming up and a fair judgment on how the Government is going, and I want it to go well, is after the budget," Mr Joyce said.
"I think it's stating the bleeding obvious that if you continue on further and deeper into the year, you could believe that the polling was a true reflection of the way people were thinking.
"If you truly believe this is the sentiment of the people, you have an obligation not to drive your party off the cliff."
Mr Joyce, who no longer has a vote in the party room, resigned as deputy prime minister and Nationals leader on February 24 after facing pressure to quit following revelations of his affair with a former staffer.
The latest Newspoll published in The Australian today shows the coalition trails Labor 48-52 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
The Coalition has narrowed the margin by a point, but the 30th consecutive loss matches the mark Mr Turnbull used as a reason to topple Mr Abbott in September 2015.
"I regret making those remarks at the time, making the remarks about 30 Newspolls," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney today.
Mr Abbott, who is on the annual Pollie Pedal charity bike ride, said Mr Turnbull must explain his 30 Newspoll test.
"It's really, I suppose, something for Malcolm to explain why it applied to me, but shouldn't apply now," he told 2GB radio.
Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop said the public would back Mr Turnbull. "It will come to a point where they will have to make a decision about who they trust with economic management and national security and I'm confident that that will be Malcolm Turnbull," she told the Nine Network.
Asked whether she would run against Mr Turnbull if her colleagues asked her, Ms Bishop said, "I don't envisage those circumstances at all".
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said it wasn't unusual for incumbent governments to be behind in the polls.
"I mean we're not actually that far behind, truth be told," he told ABC radio. Education Minister Simon Birmingham said if polls were to be believed, Nick Xenophon would be South Australian premier.
Newspoll also found Mr Turnbull remains preferred prime minister at 38 per cent, compared to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's 36 per cent.