Coalition rises slightly in Newspoll after focus on migration and citizenship

Katharine Murphy Political editor
The Coalition’s poll ratings have improved marginally after Malcolm Turnbull spent the week promoting new policies on immigration and citizenship. Photograph: Rajanish Kakade/AP

The Coalition has recorded a marginal improvement in the latest Newspoll but Labor remains comfortably in front, despite a big government push on migration and citizenship reform.

The poll, published by the Australian on Sunday night, has Labor ahead 52% to 48% on the two-party-preferred measure, compared with 53% to 47% three weeks ago.

The movement is within the poll’s margin of error. The latest Guardian Essential poll had Labor leading the Coalition 54% to 46% a week ago.

Last week the Turnbull government announced changes to the 457 visa program and outlined a new process for obtaining citizenship – populist measures it hopes will resonate with disaffected voters drifting to political insurgents such as One Nation.

But the government’s big political push, launched while Newspoll was in the field, was disrupted by continued displays of disunity.

After being advised by some colleagues to quit politics for the good of the government, the former prime minister Tony Abbott last week declared he would continue to make public interventions as he saw fit.

Abbott’s statement of defiance was followed by a leak of polling from the last federal election which showed the former prime minister was under pressure in his Sydney seat of Warringah. Abbot responded furiously to the leak.

Late last week the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, warned Abbott to pull his head in, saying his interventions were smoothing the Labor leader Bill Shorten’s path to the Lodge.

On Sunday the leading conservative Peter Dutton took a softer line on Abbott, saying the Liberal party needed to respect its former leaders, but he also chided the former prime minister about keeping his public interventions constructive.

Last week the government attempted to ratchet up political pressure on Labor to endorse the changes to citizenship and the migration program, and spent the week talking about “Australian values”, but Shorten focused instead on housing affordability.

The latest Newspoll suggests the government’s primary vote is steady on 36% and Labor’s primary vote dropped one point from 36 to 35%. One Nation’s primary vote was steady on 10%.

Malcolm Turnbull’s net satisfaction rating improved from minus 29 points to minus 25 points since the last Newspoll, and Shorten’s rating also improved, from minus 22 to minus 20 points.