November 11, 2018 / 11:13 PM / in a month

Australian government slips further behind Labor: Newspoll

FILE PHOTO: The new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a news conference in Canberra, Australia August 24, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National Coalition has lost more ground to the front-running Labor Party opposition months before an election, with most gains since he became leader in August erased, a poll showed on Monday.

Labor is now ahead of the Coalition 55 percent to 45 percent on a two-party preferred basis, up a point from a Newspoll two weeks earlier. An election is due by May 2019.

In a survey involving all political parties, the Coalition’s support fell by 1 percentage point to 35 percent, while Labor gained a point to 40 percent.

Morrison’s own ratings, which dropped after the Coalition lost a by-election for the seat of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, fell further into negative ground even after he toured Queensland last week appealing to voters in crucial regional seats.

He has sunk to a net satisfaction rating of -8. Negative net satisfaction means more people are dissatisfied than satisfied with the person. The drop follows comments last week from Turnbull calling for an explanation on why he was dumped as leader. Morrison said it was because Turnbull had failed to connect with ordinary Australians.

Labor leader Bill Shorten’s rating slipped to -15 from -13, according to the Newspoll.

The poll was conducted partly after an attack in Melbourne last Friday in which one man was stabbed to death and two were injured. The attacker, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, who authorities said was an Islamic State sympathizer, was shot by police and later died.

Morrison blamed the attack on “the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam” and said religious leaders must be proactive in ensuring “these dangerous teachings and ideologies do not take root here.”

The poll surveyed 1,802 people in all states of Australia from Thursday to Sunday. The sampling error was plus or minus 2.3 percentage points, Newspoll said.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Peter Cooney

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