Australian prime minister’s approval rating turns negative: poll

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

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approval rating has turned negative for the first time since he became the country’s leader in August, according to an opinion poll published on Monday.

His drop in popularity follows the Liberals’ loss of its one-seat majority in a by-election in the seat of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, which left the Liberal-National coalition as a minority government.

Despite Morrison’s negative rating, the Newspoll found 58 percent of voters want parliament to run to a full term, with an election due in May 2019.

The government has had a bad two weeks, after announcing a controversial plan to consider moving the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; mistakenly backing an “it’s ok to be white” motion in parliament; and then losing the Wentworth by-election.

The seat was won by independent Kerryn Phelps in a huge swing against the Liberals, who had held the seat for more than a century.

The Newspoll found that the number dissatisfied with Morrison jumped six points to 44 percent, which gave the prime minister a net negative approval rating for the first time.

Satisfaction with Morrison dropped from 7 on Oct. 15 to -3 on Oct. 28. However, he was still ahead of opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten, who had a satisfaction rating of -13.

Based on the results of the poll, the government would lose 19 seats in an election.

The federal Liberals are considered so tainted that Morrison did not even show up at the party’s campaign launch on Sunday for a state election in Victoria, to be held on Nov. 24.

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