Will this be the end of Tony Abbott?
Liberal MPs who must decide whether to spill the leadership are confronted by a Newspoll that’s truly shocking for the embattled Prime Minister.
Labor has a massive 57-43% lead in two party terms, with the Coalition’s primary vote on 35%, down 3 points since the last poll and 10 points below the 2013 election level. Bill Shorten has a huge 48-30% advantage over Tony Abbott as better prime minister.
More than two third of voters (a record 68%, up 10 points) are dissatisfied with Abbott; only 24% (down 9 points) are satisfied.
And, as the MPs prepare to fill in their ballots to decide whether the leadership should be opened, they know what the voters think. Asked to choose between Abbott and Turnbull, 64% opt for Turnbull, and only 25% for Abbott.
The Australian, reporting the poll, notes that the two party result is the worst for the Coalition since the last days of Turnbull’s opposition leadership.
The one bit of polling good news for Abbott comes at a state level: a Fairfax/Ipsos poll in NSW shows the federal crisis hasn’t washed through to the Baird government – facing a March election – which had been a big Liberal fear. It leads Labor 56-44%.
Sunday night saw intense lobbying continuing ahead of Monday’s 9am party meeting, with Abbott pulling out all stops to shore up his support.
He needs not just to see off the spill motion. A significant dissident vote would leave him a dead leader walking.
In a fluid situation, the Abbott camp believed they had the numbers to defeat the motion; within the Turnbull ranks opinion was divided about its prospects. Some MPs were still undecided.
With the Paid Parental Leave plan already overboard in a bid to assuage critics, on Sunday the policy on the $20 billion project for new submarines came into the leadership play, after South Australian senator Sean Edwards made his opposition to the spill conditional on the Australian Submarine Corporation being able to compete.
Edwards was satisfied after a phone call from Abbott, believing he had extracted a concession. Abbott later said said his undertaking to Edwards of “a competitive evaluation process” was existing policy. Whether anything had been given away was unclear.