Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton believes the coalition can turn around disastrous polling before the federal election, denying voters have an entrenched dislike of the Liberals.
The final Newspoll for 2018 has the Coalition trailing Labor on a two-party preferred basis while Labor leader Bill Shorten has narrowed the gap as preferred leader.
For the third consecutive poll Labor leads the Liberal-National coalition 55 to 45 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
Mr Shorten gained two points to 36 per cent as preferred prime minister while Liberal leader Scott Morrison dropped two points to 44 per cent, according to the poll published in The Australian.
Despite Mr Shorten’s improved standing with votes, Mr Dutton believes the Opposition Leader is the reason the government can stage a remarkable come-from- behind victory.
“People have a real hesitation about Bill Shorten. They think there is something dodgy in his background and that is the case,” Mr Dutton told Sky News on Monday.
“I think people will start to second guess whether or not they want Bill Shorten as prime minister of this country and I do believe that we can come back in the 2019 election in May.”
In a thinly veiled swipe at Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Dutton backed Prime Minister Scott Morrison to mount a stronger campaign than his predecessor.
“I think he will campaign in a way far more superior than we saw at the last election in 2016,” the home affairs minister said.
The Coalition’s primary vote is up one to 35 per cent with Labor’s primary also went up a point to 41 per cent.
One Nation ended the year with a primary vote of seven per cent – one point down on the previous Newspoll.
The Greens remained unchanged on nine per cent.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the government was determined to make sure Australians knew what was at risk.
“We’ve long known that the next election is a huge mountain to climb,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“Bill Shorten and the Labor Party think they have the next election in the bag.”