Shifty better watch his back

Caption: Bill hears the ominous sound of knives being sharpened.

The conventional wisdom ? until now ? has been that Labor are cruising to a landslide electoral victory this year. Voters rightly dissatisfied with the revolving-door prime ministership have been hammering the Coalition in the polls. An unprecedented wrecking campaign by ousted leader Malcolm Turnbull has been making Prime Minister Scott Morrison?s attempts to get his head above water even more difficult.

But Bill Shorten had best not start measuring out the floorspace in the Lodge just yet. Labor?s position is much more precarious than it looks. The first polls of the new year hint at the shifting sands under Labor?s feet. Quote:

Scott Morrison has been thrown an electoral lifeline, despite a string of senior ministers declaring they will quit politics at the May election, with the Coalition ?returning to its highest poll ratings since the removal of Malcolm Turnbull.

The first Newspoll for 2019, conducted exclusively for The Australian, shows a five-point turnaround in popular support for the two major parties since ?December, with the Coalition?s primary vote lifting two points to 37 per cent and Labor falling three points to 38 per cent. End of quote.

The Newspoll was before Labor?s suicidal decision to reverse policy on border security. An Ipsos poll since has confirmed the swing against Labor.

Bill Shorten is Labor?s worst liability. Shorten is a deeply unpopular leader, oozing insincerity and with a nasty history from his union days of greasing favours from big business while shafting the very workers he was supposed to represent. Every day, Shorten should offer a prayer of thanks to Kevin Rudd for changing party rules and making it much more difficult to remove an incumbent leader.

Difficult, but not impossible. Even under the revised rules, Rudd would still have been toppled in 2009. If the Coalition continues to rise, Shorten had best watch his back. A challenge by Anthony Albanese was narrowly avoided only last year.

But Shorten isn?t Labor?s only Achilles heel. The legacy of Rudd, Gillard and former treasurer Wayne Swan has left Labor?s economic credibility in tatters. Voters seem unlikely to be swayed by what a raft of what almost all commentators agree are economically damaging policies, coupled with fluffy, socialism-lite palaver about ?inclusive growth?. Voters will also remember Labor?s dire record on border security. Quote:

Mr Morrison?also maintains a strong lead over Labor leader Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister with little more than 100 days before an expected election in mid-May?Mr Morrison told The Australian last night that voting ?Australians would soon face one of the most important decisions in decades.

?As the election gets closer, Australians will see a very stark contrast between our economic record and the future plans of the government and how it can improve people?s lives and circumstances over the next decade,? the Prime Minister said. ?The alternative is that Australians will find out how important it is to have a strong economy when they don?t have one under Bill Shorten.? End of quote.

But it speaks to the mammoth task ahead of the Coalition that the poll bounce has gone flat since, and is still talked about in terms of minimising losses. Interestingly, though, there has also been a steady exodus from Labor’s senior ranks: as many Labor politicians have quit or are quitting as Liberals. Quote:

With Labor commanding a significant election-winning lead of 53-47 after preferences, the ?Coalition would reduce the scale of a defeat from the possible loss of 21 seats to 14 if the poll results were replicated at the general election on a uniform basis. This represents a swing against the government of 3.4 per cent since the 2016 election. End of quote.

There?s interesting movement in the minor parties as well. Quote:

The Greens remained unchanged on a relative low 9 per cent of primary votes, with more support swinging behind other minor parties and independents. Their aggregate vote lifted two points to 10 per cent. One Nation dropped a point to 6 per cent but this still represents a significantly higher vote than the 1.3 per cent rec?orded nationally at the 2016 double-dissolution election. End of quote.


The signs are ever more obvious that the Greens peaked in 2010, and are on a long slide into irrelevance. The sooner, the better.