A Labor minister has dismissed polling that characterised Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as a ‘follower, not a leader’, ‘bland’ and a ‘beta male’ who was ineffectual in tackling nation’s cost-of-living crisis.
The disparaging labels emerged in focus groups carried out in marginal seats in Queensland and South Australia by Victorian-based polling company RedBridge for NewsCorp.
During an interview with Sky News on Sunday, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt insisted Mr Albanese was making ‘tough’ decisions.
‘So I am not concerned about those sort of remarks and I think the record shows that Albo and the entire Cabinet have taken the tough decisions that the country has needed,’ Mr Watt said.
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt (pictured left having a beer with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese) says he is not worried about unfavourable comments coming out of focus groups
However, Mr Watt conceded the focus groups showed sky-rocketing costs was a key issue for Australians.
‘What I think it highlights is the importance of the cost-of-living issues that so many Australians face,’ he said.
‘Obviously when people are doing it tough, as they are right now, they look for the government to take tough action to address those cost-of-living issues and that is exactly what we are doing.’
Mr Watt downplayed the reported personal assessments of Mr Albanese.
‘I am not very concerned about that,’ he told Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell.
‘It is, as you say, a focus group and all sorts of people say all sorts of thing in focus groups.
‘I reckon if I walked down the main street of Brisbane this morning there would be a few people giving me a bit of free character assessment as well.’
Since the resounding defeat of the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament at a referendum in mid October Labor’s polling has started to nosedive.
Mr Albanese (pictured in outside his Marrickville home) is facing falling popularity in recent polling
This trend has been exacerbated by the outcry surrounding the Albanese government’s handling of a High Court ruling to release immigration detainess with serious criminal backgrounds into the community.
Monday’s Newspoll showed the Prime Minister’s approval rating had sunk to its lowest level since Labor won power 18 months ago.
It also showed Labor’s primary vote in freefall, plunging by four points to 31 per cent in the past three weeks, while the Coalition’s has risen a point to 38 per cent – its highest support since the election in May 2022.
On a two-party preferred basis, Labor and the Coalition are tied 50-50 in the poll, which would likely lead to Labor losing five seats and its majority if an election was held now.
Redbridge surveyed voters from the electorates of Brisbane, Griffith, Ryan, Sturt and Boothby.
The participants voiced the worrying perception for Labor that Mr Albanese was distracted by things not of central concern to most Australians
‘He hasn’t really addressed cost-of-living and I get there’s global factors at play but I don’t think he’s done much concrete action on it,’ one participant said.
‘I just don’t see a lot of action on cost-of-living pressures. He’s missing in action and now he’s running off overseas again,’ one said.
Even Mr Albanese’s working class authenticity, normally considered one of his strengths, came in for questioning.
‘He plays on Australian colloquialisms and wears that bloody Rabbitoh’s cap, it makes me cringe. It looks so staged,’ a focus group participant commented.