Abbott’s Polling Woes

Tony Abbott in Parliament last week. | Source: Mike Bowers, The Global Mail

Dylan Caporn – Opinion

Another Tuesday, another Newspoll that’s gone the wrong way for Tony Abbott. His approval rating is plummeting, with the 27% in the latest poll the lowest point in his term as Leader of the Opposition.

Mike Seccombe wrote several weeks ago that the Leader of the Opposition is “looking a bit beaten down these days. He has been for a little while actually”. Seccombe cites the fact that Abbott is no longer leading the attack in Question Time. Rather, Bishop, Pyne and even on one occasion, Turnbull, fired questions to the government, taking the limelight off their leader.

Liberal frontbencher George Brandis says the figures are the result of the Prime Minister’s  attacks on Mr Abbott’s character.

“I think that inevitably the personal vilification of Tony Abbott by the Prime Minister and by the Labor party dirt unit was going to have an impact – we anticipated this,” Senator Brandis told Sky News this morning.

2012 hasn’t been the greatest year for Abbott. The carbon tax came into effect with little change to households, something that is no doubt causing the balancing out of the polls at the moment.

He’s also had his character called into question by members of the media, and members of a government tired of being . Prominent Cabinet Ministers label him as a misogynist, again something which is hitting him hard in the polls. A Quarterly Essay that covered his past, again placed his aggressive behaviour while President of the Sydney Representative Council into the spotlight, raising questions about his capacity to be Prime Minister.

Still, history is on is side. Trade Minister Craig Emerson told Sky News this morning “I would expect an opposition to be in front around a year before a general election if we’re any good as a Government – that is, making the tough decisions, the reforming decisions,”

“The history of Australian politics has shown that those reforms are rarely top of the pops with the people.”

The preferred Prime Minister polls which are showing a widening gap between Mr Abbott and the Prime Minister is widely regarded as unnecessary and irrelevant. Past elections have shown that the most important polling figures come from the primary party figures, which still has the Coalition up five points, but back at 2010 election levels.

No doubt, with the Parliamentary killing season upon us that members of the main stream media, and possibly members of Abbott’s own backbench will begin talking. And counting.

But who do they turn to. Popular discussion is had on the topic on who would replace the Leader of the Opposition, and the discussion is short. While politically they’d be better off with Turnbull who appeals to the swinging vote, the party won’t have him as leader again.

Hockey is a popular choice, but can make bad decisions regarding interview answers. Yesterday was a prime example. Hockey was with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell and Employment Minister Bill Shorten discussing a possible royal commission into child sex abuse into the Catholic Church –

NEIL MITCHELL: Well, Joe Hockey, what do you think?  I mean you’ve started to say you’re torn.  You’re torn between a royal commission and other ideas, or what?

JOE HOCKEY: Yeah, look I agree.  I mean, what do you have?  A royal commission to the Catholic church?  I mean, that’s ridiculous.

(A full transcript is available here)

Later, after discussion in the media, Hockey tweeted “Please stop with the ill-informed crap about what I said abt a Royal Commission. Please read what I actually said”. 

At the moment, Abbott is the Liberals best bet, but with a federal election coming up next year, he better lift his game.