Bill Shorten is the most unpopular Labor leader in a decade. Meanwhile, Malcolm Turnbull turns water into wine.

This morning is probably not going to be the day Bill Shorten wakes up and leaps out of bed, ready to take on the world.

He is probably considering chucking a sickie, or maybe rolling over and hitting the snooze button for an extra five minutes.

Because today no matter what he does, no matter where he does it, no matter how important it is, he will only be asked about one thing.

“What do you think today’s Newspoll result means for your leadership?”

He’ll reply with a variation of “there is only one poll that counts and that is election day” and we have “plans for the future” or “polls come and go” but the truth is, like it or not, polls matter.

Today The Australian’s Newspoll has reported a 33 per cent primary vote for the ALP with 15 per cent support for Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister.  The 15 per cent result is the second lowest result for any Labor leader since Newspoll began measuring it in 1987.

In the final Newspoll before he was replaced, Tony Abbott was 15 points behind Mr Shorten.  Now the gap between Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten has blown out to 49 points. Prime Minister Turnbull is in front, leading by 64 per cent to Bill Shorten’s 15 per cent.   

It is fair to say today will not be a good day for Bill.

Meanwhile over at team ‘PM Malcolm’ things are jubilant – bordering euphoric. While his staffers will be extremely careful to hide it, they are quietly fist pumping their way along the blue carpet halls of the ministerial wings at Parliament House this morning.  

Those MPs that led the charge for the Prime Ministerial knifing of Tony Abbott will be proud. They knew you see. They knew how good it could be.


There have been five Newspolls now since Malcolm Turnbull took over as Prime Minister from Tony Abbott just 10 weeks ago and things just keep on getting better for him.

His popularity levels are now at stratospheric heights for Newspoll. They are almost at the highest level of any Australian political leader  in recent times, with the exception of Kevin Rudd.

All of this excitement and achievement and yet it is still only very early days for the PM.  There is a great deal of expectation for him to live up to.  It is a phenomenal turning of the political tables.

Now really is the time to be alive for Malcolm Turnbull. Record high poll results are the glory days of politics. As someone that has worked in the office of a politician with some of the highest Newspoll rankings ever, it is something you do not easily forget.

When your stakes are high everything you touch turns to gold. Everyone wants to know you. Every journalist wants to spend time with you. People mob you on the street and line up to take selfies with you and get hysterical when they touch you.

Your authority is heightened. Your presence sharpened. The questions are easier. And your ability to answer them far superior.

When your stakes are low. Everything you do turns to a vile shit sandwich.  Your job is a rolling, catatonic cluster of the highest order and you have mostly lost control of the message. It controls you. Every tiny thing you try to do is very epically difficult – because you are under siege.

They are tough days for Bill as his office enters the challenging cycle of trying to cut through and raising your stakes while you’re down.  It is no easy feat for the most seasoned of political campaigners.

(Post continues after video)


The Opposition Leader’s political survival is to an extent “locked in” by rules put in place by former leader Kevin Rudd. 

The rules mean for the Labor party to change leaders they need to hold an open ballot that allows all eligible Labor party members to vote via good old snail mail.

Federal MPs and Senators would also vote and the final result would be determined by giving equal weight to the Parliamentary Labor party ballot outcome and that of the grassroots membership of the Labor party.

This ain’t no political knifing in the dead of night people. This is a month long ballot process.

Under the new rules, the only other way to remove a leader would be for 60 per cent of caucus members to sign a petition requesting a new election.

Hence it is now much harder for Labor to change political leaders than it was for the Liberal party ten weeks ago…

It is not possible to win government from Opposition with a primary vote of 33 per cent.

However politics is unpredictable. People can make great comebacks. I have seen the never, never happen. Nobody should be written off. 

And importantly we are not in an election campaign. Yet. 

But that might be something Malcolm Turnbull will start to consider very soon in the New Year.

Once the silly season is over and the threat of bushfires and flooding has somewhat dissipated it could be the perfect time for a snappy 35 day campaign.

Especially with this beautiful set of numbers.  It could be time for Bill Shorten to get ready.