Support for Australian government rises ahead of election

January 28, 2019

By Colin Packham

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Support for Australia’s conservative government edged higher over the last two weeks, a widely watched poll showed on Tuesday, boosting Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s reelection prospects less than four months out from the next election.

The Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper showed the Liberal-National coalition government trails the main opposition Labor party by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent on a two-party preferred basis under Australia’s preferential voting system, where votes from minor parties are redistributed.

While still on course for an election defeat, the Newspoll is the best result for Morrison’s government since the ousting of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in August 2018.

The removal of Turnbull, which ushered in Morrison as the sixth different prime minister in the last decade, saw voters abandon the government amid widespread anger at the ousting of the popular liberal lawmaker.

Morrison’s government was quickly plunged into minority form after voters selected an independent to replace Turnbull, who quit politics shortly after his removal.

Morrison must return to the polls by May 2019, an election that is poised to be fought over inequality.

Morrison’s government, which late last year delivered its strongest fiscal outlook in 10 years, is expected to promise tax cuts and sweeteners in the final budget in April.

Labor has pledged to cut capital gains tax discounts and scrap a favorable tax scheme for owners of multiple properties, known as negative gearing, amid soaring house prices.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Richard Chang)