The ball was in new Prime Minister Scott Morrison's court with an election this year still a real possibility according to a leading political commentator.
The ball was in new Prime Minister Scott Morrison's court with an election this year still a real possibility according to a leading political commentator. SAM MOOY

The future poll that will set new PM's course

THE latest disastrous Newspoll figures were not the ones that should cause new Prime Minister Scott Morrison much concern according to a leading political commentator.

Nor should the next set of numbers according to Griffith University senior lecturer in politics, Dr Paul Williams.

It would be the third poll that ultimately determined whether Mr Morrison takes his government to an election before Christmas, or waits into 2019 in the hope of turning things around.

Newspoll has Labor with 41 per cent of the first preference vote to the Coalition's 33 per cent and 56-44 on a two-party preferred basis after preferences.

The worrying numbers according to Dr Williams, were neither of those.

He described the past week as a big hiccup for the Coalition and one of the clumsiest and ugliest he had witnessed.

But Dr Williams said the Coalition represented half of Australia's political duopoly and always maintain a capacity to rebuild.

He said it had been a very bad Newspoll for the government but Mr Morrison would benefit from the advantage of incumbency.

More immediately worrying for the Liberals, Dr Williams said, was his poor showing in polling as to preferred Prime Minister.

After trailing former leader Malcolm Turnbull by 12, Labor leader Bill Shorten now leaders Mr Morrison by 39-33 as preferred Prime Minister.

"ScoMo has more work to do," Dr Williams said. "But he is a very effective politician.

He pointed to ReachTel polling in the seats of Dickson (Brisbane), Reid (Sydney) and Deakin (Melbourne) which showed the LNP holding two of the three.

All three were marginal seats that the Coalition must hold onto, Dr Williams said, for the government to remain a fighting chance at the next election.

"It's probable they (the Coalition) will be defeated," he said. "But this puts them back in the game."

Dr Williams said conventional wisdom suggested the Coalition would need a lot of time to repair voter trust, so it would not go to the polls early with May the most-likely date.

But he said these weren't normal circumstance.

"The electorate's patience has run out," Dr Williams said. "Morrison may attempt to strike while the iron was hot.

"An election this year shouldn't be ruled out. Morrison can build the numbers and push Shorten to the side."

But he said voters should expect factional tensions that brought on Mr Turnbull's defeat to continue with most of the personnel unchanged and the party room split 40-45.

However equally Dr Williams said the change of leader marked a re-set for the Government with the issue likely to move on quickly for voters particularly if Mr Morrison can fill the media with his own message.

Labor he said needed to stick to the plan it had under a Turnbull Prime Ministership, playing the policy ball and reminding voters of tax breaks for billionaires and the preferencing of big business over workers.

He said the broadening gap between rich and poor with people who worked long hours unable to make ends meet, the loss of penalty rates and wages not keeping pass with inflation all worked in Labor's favour.

Labor's endorsed Fairfax candidate Michelle Dracoulis said she would like an election as soon as possible as would voters.

"All I hear is people wanting an election so they can have their say," she said.

Ms Dracoulis said the Labor branch's membership was strong, feeling empowered and confident it can make a real contest of what is a "safe" LNP seat.



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