The change of prime minister has put the Coalition ahead in Newspoll for the first time since before the 2014 draconian budget, with Malcolm Turnbull taking a 34-point lead over Bill Shorten as better prime minister.
The Coalition leads Labor 51-49% on a two-party basis in the poll published in The Australian – a dramatic turnaround from a fortnight ago, when the government trailed the ALP 46-54%.
With Turnbull’s cabinet meeting for the first time after Monday’s swearing in of the ministry, the poll found Turnbull the most popular prime minister in more than five years. 55% rate him as preferred prime minister to 21% for Shorten, which is the lowest level for any leader in six years. Shorten’s better PM rating has dropped by 20 points in a fortnight.
The Coalition’s primary vote is up five points to 44%. This is the highest since November 2013, soon after the election; it is 1.6% below the election level. Labor’s primary vote is down four points to 35%. The Greens have lost one point to 11%.
Turnbull’s satisfaction rating is 42%, with 24% dissatisfied. This compares with Abbott’s satisfaction level of 30% and a dissatisfaction of 63% in the last poll. Turnbull has a net satisfaction of plus 18. Abbott’s last net figure was minus 33. But 34% were uncommitted about Turnbull.
Shorten’s satisfaction ratings changed little in the fortnight, with a one point fall in his satisfaction to 29%, while his dissatisfaction level fell four points to 54%. His net satisfaction rating improved from minus 28 to minus 25.
In interviews on Monday Turnbull continued to leave the way open for policy changes, including in higher education, while avoiding locking himself into specifics.
Asked whether he intended to push ahead with university deregulation, Turnbull said the cabinet would be considering that.
“The government’s position is that reform of the higher education system to enable, really to promote excellence and greater diversity and choice in higher ed, is very, very important,” he said.
“But, clearly, we’ve got political realities to deal with in the Senate and so … if you can’t get something through the Senate, it is, I would say, it’s highly possible that you could change it to something that will get through the Senate. This is what John Howard calls the iron laws of arithmetic,” he told the ABC’s AM.
Asked on the ABC’s 7.30 what he learned from his time as opposition leader, which ended badly, Turnbull said: “I’m wiser about people … I feel much more confident and centred in myself. But not in a sort of ebullient way - I just feel quietly confident and settled. I’m at peace with myself and I feel that the leadership I can provide to Australia will make a difference. I believe the leadership I can provide with my colleagues in this Parliament will ensure that we are better able to meet the challenges of the future and take advantage of those opportunities.”