Turnbull's Coalition Powers Past Labor in Australian Poll

  • Coalition holds election-winning lead in Fairfax-Ipsos survey
  • Pressure mounting on Labor leader Shorten as popularity wanes

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken his Liberal-National coalition to an election-winning lead in an opinion poll published Monday, just five weeks after defeating Tony Abbott in a ballot of lawmakers to take the leadership.

The coalition leads the opposition Labor party by 53 percent to 47 percent on a two-party preferred basis, reversing an eight point deficit recorded in August, according to the Fairfax-Ipsos survey.

While Turnbull, 60, is yet to announce key policy initiatives, the former banker’s message of confidence and optimism in the nation’s economy is starting to pay dividends and increasing speculation he may bring forward elections that don’t have to be held until late 2016. He’s surged past Opposition leader Bill Shorten in the personal popularity stakes, leading as preferred prime minister on 67 percent to 21 percent.

“Turnbull seems to have been able to convince some non-committed voters to turn to him and is looking more like a statesman than other recent prime ministers,” said Zareh Ghazarian, a Melbourne-based politics professor at Monash University. “There’s some danger signs in the economy and Turnbull is yet to produce any real policies to counter those, so voters will be looking closely to see what he can do about that.”

While Shorten was effective in exposing the shortcomings of the abrasive and combative Abbott, he’s yet to score political points against the measured and urbane Turnbull; an attack in parliament last week on the prime minister’s use of Cayman Islands-based funds to manage his wealth failed to hit the mark.

If Labor lawmakers want “to go around wearing a sandwich board saying Malcolm Turnbull’s got a lot of money, feel free,” Turnbull, a self-made multimillionaire, told parliament Oct. 15. “I think people know that.”

The government’s strong performance in the poll comes even as signs of weakness stalk the world’s 12th-largest economy, which expanded well below trend at just 2 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier. The jobless rate was 6.2 percent in September, hovering near a 13-year high.

The Fairfax-Ipsos poll of 1,403 voters was conducted Oct. 15-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points

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