Financial Review-Ipsos poll: Coalition closes in on Labor 51:49

The poll shows Labor’s primary vote fell 4 points over the summer to 33 per cent, while the Coalition’s rose 2 points to 38 per cent. The Greens remain steady at 13 per cent.

The poll of 1200 voters was taken from Wednesday night to Friday night last week in the midst of a pitched battle over border protection policy.

This was caused by Labor siding with the Greens and independents to roll the government in the lower house on legislation, making it easier for asylum seekers to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment.

‘This bloke wants a campaign on fear’

While this represented a historic loss for the government, Mr Morrison sought to turn it to his political advantage by mounting a full-blown campaign saying Labor had weakened the borders.

“The protection of our borders should never be traded away for cheap deals in the House of Representatives for politics in the bubble,” Mr Morrison said on Sunday after releasing a video to be broadcast in several source countries. It features the Prime Minister telling people smugglers not to try and exploit the law change.

“It’s to send a very clear message, this government, the one I lead, is in charge of the show and you have tried to get past me before and you failed and you will fail again.

“Our government will be doing everything within our powers despite what the Labor Party have done to undermine your border protection regime, to ensure these boats don’t come.”

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said Mr Morrison had been reduced to trying to scare voters.

“This bloke wants a campaign on fear. That’s what he wants his election campaign to be about,” she said.

The government had been hoping for a lift in the polls on the back of the asylum-seeker issue erupting.

The poll shows Mr Morrison leading Labor’s Bill Shorten as preferred Prime Minister by 48 per cent to 38 per cent, a lead which is statistically unchanged since the last poll in December.

Also since the last poll, Mr Morrison’s approval rating has risen 2 points to 49 per cent and his disapproval rating is up 1 point to 40 per cent.

Mr Shorten’s approval rating is down a point to 40 per cent and his disapproval rating is up 2 points to 52 per cent.

Another week of chaos

While the government will take succour from the result, it faces another tumultuous week in Parliament.

A handful of Nationals MPs are threatening to cross the floor to join Labor and the crossbench in rolling the government on another piece of legislation, this time on a bill giving small business more powers to combat anti-competitive conduct by big business.

The revolt is brewing amid growing anger in the junior Coalition party over last week’s retreat on energy policy.

The Nationals believe last week’s shelving of legislation to enable the forced divestment of energy companies was driven, in part, by pressure from big business, which vehemently opposes the powers.

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