Newspoll brings more bad news for Bill Shorten

Bill Shorten’s rating of 17% as preferred prime minister in the latest Newspoll is his worst. AAP/Lukas Coch

Malcolm Turnbull has widened already huge margins over Bill Shorten on satisfaction and better prime minister ratings while the Coalition has pulled ahead to lead 52-48% on the two-party vote in the latest Newspoll.

Turnbull has a 67-point lead over Shorten in net satisfaction – he is on plus 35 to Shorten’s minus 32. On the better prime minister rating, Turnbull is ahead 63%-17%. The results will put further pressure on Shorten as he struggles to position Labor to try to deal with the government’s new, more positive tone and the public’s enthusiasm for it.

The results come as a one-time staffer of Joe Hockey, Trent Zimmerman, won endorsement on Monday night as Liberal candidate for the former treasurer’s seat of North Sydney at a byelection which will be held on December 5.

Zimmerman, deputy chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, had the backing of the dominant moderate group in the NSW division. He won on the first ballot with 47 votes, defeating two other candidates – John Hart, the chief executive of the lobby group Restaurant and Catering Australia, on 35 votes, and Helen Cartledge, who polled two.

The ALP is not expected to contest the safe Liberal seat, which Hockey held on a margin of nearly 16%. The absence of Labor would leave the Greens to pick up much of the ALP vote. Local issues involving council amalgamation could drive some independent candidates into the field, but without a Labor candidate the byelection is unlikely to have wider political implications.

In Newspoll, published in Tuesday’s Australian, Turnbull’s rating as better prime minister was up six points while Shorten was down two points in a fortnight. Shorten’s 17% is his worst result.

Satisfaction with Turnbull’s performance is up eight points to 58%; his dissatisfaction rating dropped two points to 23%. His net satisfaction rose from 25 points to 35 points.

Satisfaction with Shorten declined by two points to 26%, his record low; his dissatisfaction rating increased by five points to 58%. His net satisfaction went from minus 25 to minus 32.

The Coalition’s two-party vote of 52% compares with being tied 50-50% with Labor a fortnight ago. The government’s primary vote increased two points to 45%, its highest since November 2013 and only fractionally below its election level. The Coalition’s primary vote has gone up six points under Turnbull.

Labor’s primary vote was steady on 35%, with the Greens down a point to 11%. The poll was of 1606 voters.

The poll period saw Labor attack Turnbull over his investments – he has money in managed funds which are domiciled in the Cayman Islands. It also saw a deal between the major parties over the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the government put forward a changed package of proposed savings from family tax benefits.

In the North Sydney pre-selection, there was some bitterness because of the limited say given to local branch members. There was also resentment because Zimmerman is acting state president of the party and is running to take on the presidency.

The pre-selection panel was to be comprised of 48 locals and 48 from the state executive and state council, but a few of the non-locals were disqualified before the ballot.