Malcolm Turnbull is still the country’s preferred prime minister despite a weekend flogging at the Super Saturday by-elections.
Newspoll results published in The Australian on Monday show Turnbull has a 19-point lead over Opposition leader Bill Shorten, at 48-29 per cent respectively, but the Coalition still trails Labor 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis.
This marks the 37th Newspoll in a row the Coalition has lost to Labor under Turnbull’s leadership, however it is also the highest personal approval rating for the prime minister since May 2016, before the last federal election.
Shorten has earned a negative personal approval rating in the last 70 Newspolls, but it didn’t seem to affect Labor’s campaign at the weekend’s by-elections, with the party holding onto all four of its contested seats.
Speculation had been mounting ahead of the by-elections that Shorten could be in store for a leadership challenge if Labor didn’t bring home the win. However, any worries in his camp were soon put to bed with poll results showing the party blitzed its competitors in Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. A fifth by-election was held in the South Australian seat of Mayo, where Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie claimed victory over Liberal Georgina Downer.
Labor’s narrowest victory came from Braddon in Tasmania, where Labor MP Justine Keay won 52.7 per cent of the vote, followed by Longman in Queensland where Susan Lamb 55.4 per cent of the vote.
There was talk ahead of the by-election that a Liberal victory could entice the PM to call an early election, something he firmly denied, and it seems highly unlikely Turnbull would consider such a move now after failing to secure even one seat.
Shorten meanwhile has temporarily put a dampener on talk he’ll be challenged for the leadership by Anthony Albanese.
The shadow minister for transport and tourism has denied he’s plotting to take over from Shorten, but set tongues wagging in June with a speech that appeared in stark contrast to Shorten’s own pledge for the party.
In his speech, Albanese called on Labor to follow the lead of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, to “collaborate with unions, the business sector and civil society to achieve positive outcomes in the national interest”.
Shorten denied there was any bad blood over his colleague’s speech and said he encouraged “members of the united Labor team to put forward their views on the fair go”.
Albanese has since described himself as a “team player” and says he is willing to back Shorten all the way to the next election.