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Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese

Labor maintains 55-45% Newspoll lead despite elevation of ‘national security’ issues

Labor has maintained a 55-45% two-party lead in a Newspoll that also sees Anthony Albanese registering good personal ratings, against a background that has elevated national security issues.

The poll, published in Monday’s Australian, will be a relief for those in Labor who have been concerned about how the electoral situation might be changed to Labor’s disadvantage by both the Ukraine crisis and the earlier government attempt to wedge the opposition over China.

The Coalition’s primary vote was 35% (up one point in a fortnight); Labor remained on 41%. The Greens polled 9% (up a point).

While both leaders’ satisfaction ratings improved, Albanese’s improvement was stronger.

Satisfaction with Scott Morrison increased to 43% (up 3 points), while dissatisfaction with him was 55% (a point down).

Satisfaction with Albanese rose 4 points to 44%; his dissatisfaction rating declined 3 points to 43%. This was his first net positive rating in nearly a year.

Albanese has also again narrowed the gap on the “better PM” measure. Morrison leads 42% (down a point) to Albanese’s 40% (up 2 points).

The Newspoll of 1525 voters was taken between Wednesday and Saturday.

The poll comes as Morrison announced that Australia will provide funding for “lethal aid” – weaponry – for Ukraine through NATO. The government is not saying how much it expects to allocate to this assistance, which follows Friday’s announcement of funding for non-lethal aid and medical assistance.

Morrison also confirmed Australia is considering, as part of concerted international action, expelling Russian diplomats.

“We are considering the situation of the embassy here in Australia along with our partners, and we’re working in lockstep with all of them.”

He reaffirmed that in humanitarian support, Australia would be “doing heavy lifting”. Already the rapid processing of visas in the pipeline from Ukrainians had been completed, and all visa applications from Ukraine would be given priority in processing.

Morrison said after two years of low immigration due to COVID there was “quite a lot of room” across various programs, including for skilled migrants and students, although he also believed some who came would want to return to their homeland at some point. Australia could give aid to Poland, which is receiving a flood of Ukrainians across its border.

Despite being highly critical of China’s response to Russia’s action, Morrison was anxious to avoid a comparison between Ukraine and Taiwan.

Asked how concerned he was the Chinese would move on Taiwan he said, “No, I don’t draw a parallel between those issues.

"I think it would be unhelpful to engage in that speculation. The situations are very, very different.

"So I want to put Australians at ease in not conflating those two issues.

"I am concerned, though, that at a time when we’re seeing aggression from Russia unlawfully invading Ukraine, China thinks this is an appropriate time to be conducting those sorts of operations in the South China Sea. And at the same time easing trade restrictions on Russia for wheat.

"I don’t consider those types of actions consistent with the broader statement about seeking a peaceful resolution.”

Morrison welcomed the decision by the leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States to remove selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, and said Australia had been an early advocate for doing this. The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a global messaging system for financial transactions. It connects banks and other organisations across the world.

The leaders also committed to preventing Russia’s central bank from deploying its international reserves to undermine the impact of the sanctions imposed on Russia.

The PM and his wife Jenny attended on Sunday St Andrews Ukrainian Church at Lidcombe Sydney, where he said: “We don’t seek a peace in Ukraine that is based on bending the knee to an autocrat and a thug. We seek a peace that is the sovereignty of Ukraine”. This was what the world community demanded, he said.

Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong reiterated that Labor would “give bipartisan support to the most comprehensive and heaviest sanctions that Australia can and should take”.

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