Australian govt, opposition deadlocked: poll

Canberra, Feb 1: Australia’s opposition has drawn level with the government ahead of a likely election later in 2021 expected by local media, an opinion poll has found.

According to the latest Newspoll, which was published by The Australian on Monday, the governing coalition and opposition Labor Party are deadlocked at 50-50 on a two-party preferred basis. It is a significant result for Labor, which last led the coalition on a two-party basis in early 2020, and for Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese who has faced pressure on his leadership and criticism from prominent party members in 2021.

The poll found that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s net approval rating fell from positive 36 per cent in November to positive 30 per cent as voters expressed frustration with ongoing domestic border closures over the Christmas period.

However, Morrison maintained a strong lead over Albanese as voters’ preferred PM with 57 per cent of Newspoll respondents choosing the incumbent compared to 29 per cent for the alternative.

It was the first Newspoll taken in 2021 with parliament set to resume on Tuesday and comes after new coronavirus outbreaks in December that disrupted the Christmas period and debates over energy policy and Australia Day.

It was taken as Labor ramps-up its preparations for the next federal election, which local media said could be held later this year.

Earlier in January, Albanese, who became the leader of the Labor Party after the 2019 election defeat, announced a reshuffle of his frontbench, told party members of his plan to target 18 seats and flagged major policy announcements.

He told The Sunday Age that he was ready for an election and his slogan would be “on your side.”

“It’s not up to me to determine when, it’s out of my hands but we will be ready. I’m ready to fight it whenever it is called,” he said.

“If Scott Morrison doesn’t go full term, it’s because he doesn’t have confidence in his own capacity to govern for three years.”