MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal National Coalition has slipped against opposition Labor for a third poll in a row, pointing toward a rout on the same scale as conservatives suffered in the state of Victoria on the weekend.
The Coalition’s primary vote support fell to a near-record low of 34 percent, down from 35 percent two weeks earlier, while Labor held steady on 40 percent, a Newspoll published on Monday showed.
It said the latest result would represent a loss of 21 seats for the Coalition in a federal election due in May. That would be in line with the unexpectedly large swing against the Coalition in Saturday’s election in Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, where the Labor government won a large majority.
Parliament begins its final two weeks of the year on Monday, with the Coalition in a minority following its loss of the long-held federal seat of Wentworth in a by-election last month to replace Malcolm Turnbull, who quit after his party dumped him as prime minister in August.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the most senior Liberal from Victoria, played down the state election loss, saying it was fought on local issues.
“When it comes to the Coalition in Victoria, we’ve lost five out of the last six state elections, but at the same time we’ve won four out of the last six federal elections. … So don’t write us off just yet,” Frydenberg said on Australian Broadcasting Corp radio on Monday.
Labor leader Bill Shorten, who still trails Morrison in personal popularity, said voters in Victoria had been put off by negativity and infighting in the conservative ranks.
“For me, the lesson in Victoria is focus on better schools and better hospitals, not cuts and chaos and division.”
The latest Newspoll did not spell out a sample size, but it typically has about 1,700 respondents, with a margin of error of 2 to 3 percent.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Peter Cooney)