Most voters believe Morrison has failed to transform Coalition – Guardian Essential poll

Majority think leadership change made no difference to government but Liberal voters prefer Morrison to Turnbull

Labor continues to command an election-winning position two months after the Liberal leadership change, and the anticipated loss of Wentworth. The latest Guardian Essential poll finds 59% of respondents say the government Scott Morrison leads has not been refreshed as a consequence of the blood-letting.

This week’s poll has Labor ahead of the Coalition on the two-party preferred measure 53% to 47%, a result that has remained steady for the past month.

A majority – 59% of a sample of 1,027 voters – say the Liberal leadership change in late September has made no difference, and the government remains the same as it was before the shift. Only 20% think the change of prime minister has created a refresh.

While the past fortnight has been punishing for Morrison, with a series of leaks, stumbles and controversies culminating in the likely loss of Malcolm Turnbull’s former seat of Wentworth over the weekend – and a hung parliament – there is some good news for the prime minister in the latest poll.

Liberal voters prefer Morrison as leader than Turnbull 57% to 29%, and 35% of all voters in the sample say they prefer Morrison to Turnbull’s 28%. Labor and Greens voters were more likely to prefer Turnbull.

News of the poll comes as Morrison will attempt to steady the government’s battered political fortunes by pressing ahead with its agenda to lower power prices, and with a drought summit later in the week.

Counting is continuing in the seat of Wentworth, with independent Kerryn Phelps 1,649 votes ahead of the Liberal candidate, Dave Sharma, on Monday night, which gives her a buffer as postal votes continue to be assessed by the Australian Electoral Commission.

The new Guardian Essential poll shows climate change – which was a significant factor in the Wentworth result – continues to be of concern to a majority of Australian voters.

Just over half the sample, 56%, say Australia is not doing enough to address climate change, while 23% think Australia is doing enough. Voters between 18 and 44, and people with university education, are more likely to worry about the issue.

Liberal National voters are split but they are more likely to think the government is not doing enough (45%) than the reverse.

A comfortable majority – 63% – say climate change is happening and is caused by human activity, and 25% believe we may be witnessing a normal fluctuation in the Earth’s climate.

Assessed by age cohorts, voters under 35 split 66%-19% and people aged over 55 split 56%-37%. People with higher education are more likely to think climate change is happening and is caused by human activity.

The government has played down the need for a significant shift in its position on climate change before the next federal election, despite the strong protest vote in the seat of Wentworth over the weekend.

The treasurer and former energy and environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, told Sky News on Sunday that people in Sydney’s eastern suburbs were concerned about climate change, but he said the government did not intend to “reduce emissions at the expense of people’s power bills”.

Voters were asked in this survey to express views about issues that have been floated by Morrison, or have been in the news. A majority of voters supported a plan to force migrants to move to regional areas (51%).

The sample was split on an controversial idea floated by Morrison in the lead up to the Wentworth byelection, clearly targeted at Jewish voters in the seat. The prime minister signalled that Australia could follow Donald Trump’s lead and move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – an idea that has met with a cool reaction from Indonesia.

Forty-two per cent didn’t know what they thought about the foreign policy recalibration, while 26% approved and 32% disapproved.

Voters were also asked to nominate the most important issues the government should address over the next 12 months. Voters said addressing cost of living pressures (60%), improving the health system (37%), looking at housing affordability (29%) and creating jobs and reducing unemployment (27%).


Katharine Murphy Political editor

The GuardianTramp

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