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Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese

View from The Hill: Labor strongly ahead in Newspoll and Resolve, as election race enters final half

Labor’s confidence will be boosted by two polls showing it holding a strong lead, as Anthony Albanese carried off a well-orchestrated party launch in Perth on Sunday.

Newspoll, published in Monday’s Australian, has Labor ahead on a two-party basis by 53-47%, unchanged in a week. A Resolve poll for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age has a Labor lead of 54-46%.

In Newspoll, the ALP primary vote lifted a point to 38%, while the Coalition remained steady on 36%. Albanese narrowed Scott Morrison’s margin as better prime minister. Morrison leads 45% (down a point) to Albanese’s 39% (up 2 points).

The Prime Minister had a 5 point positive turnaround in his satisfaction rating, with 44% satisfied with his performance and 51% dissatisfied, for a net rating of minus 7. Albanese’s rating on satisfaction was 40% (up 2) while his dissatisfaction was 49% (down a point), with a net level of minus 9.

In the poll, 56% said it was time for a change of government.

The Resolve poll has Labor steady on a primary vote of 34%, while the Coalition has dropped from 35% to 33% on primaries in a fortnight. The Greens have had a big jump from 11% to 15%.

Morrison leads Albanese as preferred PM 39-33%. This compares to 38-30% a fortnight ago. Morrison’s approval is on 42% and his disapproval is 51%, giving him a net rating of minus 9. Albanese’s approval is 37% while his disapproval is 48%, for a net rating of minus 11.

The dual poll results show that halfway through the campaign, Labor’s election winning leads are holding up, although both government and opposition as well as commentators still regard the contest as volatile. There are considerable regional variations, as well as intense battles where ‘teal’ candidates are fighting Liberals.

The Newspoll of 1538 voters was done April 27-30. The Resolve poll was done April 26-30, surveying 1408 voters.

Labor has reason to be happy with its Sunday formal launch in Perth, which could easily have gone poorly given Albanese was just out of isolation and still suffering some after effects from his bout of COVID.

But he spoke well and his performance was sufficiently energetic to give his campaign momentum. His speech was carefully crafted, with some good attack lines against Scott Morrison.

“Scott Morrison just keeps on scrambling from one photo op to another, boasting that the Australian people know who he is.

"Well, he’s got that right. They don’t think - they know”.

Albanese did not have any show stopping big policy announcement, but rather several modest initiatives. But what he did announce was carefully targeted at particular constituencies and issues.

Policy Launch Commitments - An Albanese government would:

  • Make gender pay equity an objective of the Fair Work Act
  • Cut cost of medication on the PBS by $12.50, making the maximum cost for a script $30
  • Build more electric vehicle charging stations across Australia.
  • Assist low and middle income aspiring home buyers by taking equity in their houses
  • Invest $1 billion into value-adding to Australian resources

He promised to make gender equity a principle in the Fair Work Act and take other action to get a fairer deal for low paid women.

The cut in the cost of prescriptions was a little larger than the one being offered by the government.

His initiative for the government to take equity in house purchases by aspiring homeowners was an acknowledgement of the affordability crisis that is on the minds of many younger Australians.

Building more electric vehicle charging stations is promoting one practical response to the issue of climate change.

And the $1 billion for value adding to Australian resources (out of a $15 billion National Reconstruction fund Labor had already annouced) speaks to the importance of undertaking more processing and manufacturing in Australia.

Albanese’s challenge over the next few days, until he is completely recovered from COVID, will be to maintain the energy level he showed on Sunday and avoid any mistakes.

But as things stand, it’s Morrison who has the more daunting challenge as he remains well behind with the finishing line now less than three weeks away, and the start of pre-polling only one week away.

Both sides will be holding their breaths for Tuesday, when we will know whether interest rates go up immediately or wait for another month. If there’s an immediate rise, that will have an impact on the thinking of some voters, although it’s hard to judge just what that impact would be.

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