(Bloomberg) -- Support for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative bloc has fallen to its lowest level in almost three years, amid criticism of the government’s climate policy and vaccine rollout.
Some 35% of voters would make Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition their first voting choice if an election was held now, compared with 38% for the Labor opposition, according to a Newspoll published in the Australian newspaper on Monday. Such a split would result in a change of government, with Australians slated to go to the ballot box by May at the latest.
Morrison has been attempting to get the junior coalition partners, the Nationals, to support a commitment for Australia to reach net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050, ahead of him attending the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow which starts Sunday. Recent catastrophic bushfires and floods in Australia, one of the world’s biggest fossil-fuel exporters and emitters per capita of greenhouse gases, have increased voter support for more decisive action on climate change.
While Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has said his rural-based party has agreed “in-principle” to back net-zero, Morrison and his cabinet have yet to sign off on the list of demands they want in return for supporting the target. In a radio interview Monday, Joyce said “agriculture must be ringroaded” from the impacts of a net-zero pledge.
Morrison’s government has also been criticized by health experts and political rivals for failing last year to quickly secure enough vaccines from a wide range of drug-makers. While that rollout has accelerated recently, major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne have endured months of crippling lockdowns due to delta-variant outbreaks.
The Newspoll shows the government trailing the Anthony Albanese-led Labor on a two-party preferred basis, 46% to 54%. Approval of Morrison’s performance as prime minister dropped 2 percentage points to 46%.
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