Scott Morrison's popularity has taken a major hit amid bushfire response scandals, if the latest polling is to be believed

Public anger about the bushfire response has hit the PM. (Photo by Cole Bennetts/Getty Images)
  • The latest Newspoll puts Labor ahead of the Coalition for the first time since the election in May.
  • Scott Morrison’s personal approval has also taken a significant hit, falling from 45% to 37%.
  • The polling follows a month of scandal for the PM and his approach to handling the Australian bushfire crisis.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Scott Morrison has faced an avalanche of criticism for his handling of the bushfire crisis over the past month or so – and it looks like that’s being reflected in the polls.

According to the latest Newspoll, conducted by The Australian, Labor has pulled ahead of the Coalition for the first time since the election in May, now leading 51 to 49 on a two-party-preferred basis.

But it’s Morrison’s personal popularity which has really taken a hit, tumbling eight points from 45% to 37%. Labor leader Anthony Albanese has moved ahead to 43% – marking the first time a Labor leader has been ahead on that particular metric since a lone outlier poll in August 2018.

The Newspoll was conducted between January 8 and January 11 and surveyed 1505 voters.

Of course, we can easily dismiss this result as pure, horse-race faffery – particularly since the two-party-preferred numbers in the lead-up to the May election consistently showed a Labor victory where there was to be no such thing.

But it does indicate two things worth noting.

Firstly, voters are not particularly pleased with Scott Morrison’s handling of the bushfire crisis. The roar of disapproval, which began amid Morrison’s ill-advised Hawaii jaunt barely abated throughout the New Years period, perhaps hitting its peak when an exhausted firey on the frontline told the PM, in no uncertain terms, to “get fucked”.

Morrison has conceded the weakness of his early bushfire response, saying in an interview with ABC Insider’s host David Speers on Sunday there were “things I could have handled on the ground much better”.

The second indication from the Newspoll is that voters don’t seem to have taken it out on the Coalition. Yes, Labor are ahead. But it’s a very small, fragile lead considering the intensity of recent anger directed at the government’s response.

For now, it appears it is the PM who is wearing the brunt of the public’s wrath.

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