Why Turnbull's Coalition continues to slide in polls

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo / AP
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo / AP

The Australian Coalition's slide in the latest Newspoll comes as no surprise to Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann who blames it on too much internal government bickering.

Labor holds a 55-45 per cent advantage over the Coalition in two-party terms as the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suffers another blow to his personal standing.

Disaffected voters have pushed Pauline Hanson's One Nation to 10 per cent of the primary vote, more than doubling the minor party's support since November.

Cormann, who took former Prime Minister Tony Abbott to task last week for his stinging critique of the Government's performance, put the result down to the Coalition focusing on itself.

"It's not a surprise after the internal conversation we've had through the media in recent days," he told ABC radio today. "People mark us down for that."

Labor's commanding lead in two-party terms is its strongest result since early 2015, when Abbott faced a spill motion in the Liberal partyroom.

Turnbull retains his lead over Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister but is being marked down personally, with voter satisfaction with his performance tumbling from 33 to 29 per cent since the previous Newspoll, three weeks ago.

At 34 per cent, the government's primary vote is down eight points since the July 2 election.

The 10 per cent primary vote support for One Nation now matches the support for the Greens.

Cabinet minister Simon Birmingham put the rising support for One Nation down to a global trend all mainstream political parties were trying to grapple with.

As well, internal chatter was taking away from the good things the Government was doing.

"We want every single member pulling in the same direction supporting the case for the reforms the government is trying to implement right now," Birmingham said.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he takes bad polls as motivation.

"We are actually delivering results and I'll have to sell that message harder and harder and harder," he told reporters at Parliament House. "We do not rest, well, I do not rest and we keep going as hard as we can."

Senior government figures are playing down reports a group of conservative Liberal MPs, calling themselves "the deplorables", sought to undermine Turnbull after last year's close election.

The MPs held regular phone hook-ups which were instigated by Abbott and one of his strongest supporters, Senator Eric Abetz, the Australian said.

The pair chaired meetings that included directives to junior MPs to use the media to pressure the Turnbull Government on issues such as Safe Schools and amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

They also sought to position conservative MPs for a fight over same-sex marriage if Turnbull moved to a free vote once the plebiscite was defeated in Parliament, arguing any change of policy would be a leadership issue.

The Australian named other MPs involved in the group as Kevin Andrews, Michael Sukker, Rick Wilson, Andrew Hastie, Zed Seselja, Ian Goodenough, Cory Bernardi, Nicolle Flint, Jonathon Duniam, Craig Kelly, Scott Buchholz and Tony Pasin.

The group also pushed for Abbott's return to Cabinet.

Cormann insists he knows nothing about the group or its activities.

"The people mentioned in that article are all good people, they're valued friends and colleagues," he told ABC radio.

"There's nothing wrong with discussing policy matters internally."

"I would suggest that Mr Abbott reflect on his own period as prime minister before he starts throwing mud at other colleagues. He was actually given a lifeline and he gave himself six months probation and he failed," backbencher Warren Entsch told reporters.

AAP

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