The Courier-Mail

Coalition punches itself out in Shorten barrage for zero points gain

- DENNIS ATKINS

AS ANNIVERSAR­IES go it was hardly worth having but that doesn’t stop a government from pumping up its own tyres.

Bad opinion polls bookended the day – Newspoll was stuck at 54 to 46 against the Coalition at breakfast and Morgan recorded a tick up to 55/45 in favour of Labor – and no number of glossy, taxpayerfu­nded brochures, Dorothy Dix “how good are we” questions and other self congratu- latory gestures could hide the pain. The Coalition benches didn’t look at all happy for most of Question Time when Tony Abbott couldn’t quite lift himself to go full tilt.

That was left to the Assist- ant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg who finished the showbiz part of Parliament with a razorsharp answer that pinned Bill Shorten for opposing the China free trade deal before it was negotiated.

The polls were the really bad news for Abbott and his government. Not only was party support down for the Coalition – the volatile Morgan poll had it crashing to a miserable 36.5 per cent of the pri- mary vote – but Abbott’s numbers were down again.

Some Coalition figures took meagre solace in the fact Shorten’s approval rating took another hit but he leads the party in front and he’s ahead of Abbott as preferred PM.

The disappoint­ment in Coalition ranks reflected the heavy assault they launched against Shorten in the last fortnight – on his union links, the failure of the Labor/union at- tack on royal commission­er Dyson Heydon and the ALP’s stand on the China trade deal. It was unrelentin­g, branding Shorten as working against the national economic interest.

“We had an effective message against Shorten and there was nothing wrong with its tone or strength,” said one Coalition strategist. “But we just couldn’t get the public to engage. They either aren’t interested or they’re not listening.”

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 ??  ?? HIT AND MISS: Bill Shorten Shorten.
HIT AND MISS: Bill Shorten Shorten.

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