CANBERRA – That winning feeling keeps slipping away from Malcolm Turnbull. Disunity within Government ranks appears to be rife as the Coalition suffers its worst ever result in Newspoll and One Nation bounds into serious electoral contention.
And there is no end in sight as former Prime Minister Tony Abbott cops the blame for the Government's woes after being roundly slapped down for his "destabilising efforts" in offering unwanted advice to Turnbull last week on reconnecting with the conservative base and not becoming "Labor-lite".
"What we saw was an outburst on Thursday and it had its desired impact on the Newspoll, it was exactly as predicted and calculated," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.
"I'm not going to be distracted by that, it's a fact of life, that's what's happened."
Abbott blamed for Turnbull's poll slump: 'people mark us down for that' https://t.co/ckbubalv6J— Phillip Coorey (@PhillipCoorey) February 26, 2017
Bill Shorten still needs to do little to see Government support slide. The Labor leader remains behind Turnbull as preferred prime minister, but Labor has extended its two-party-preferred lead to 10 points, 55-to-45, and the Coalition support appears to be jumping to Pauline Hanson's party.
Efforts to undermine the current prime minister are reportedly so advanced within Government that The Australian reported on Monday there has been a continuation of the so-called "Monkey Pod" group of conservative MPs, which emerged after the ousting of Abbott by Turnbull in September 2015.
The grouping, which appears to have expanded its ranks but is missing Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, is now reportedly going by the Trumpian tag of "The Deplorables" and is "plotting" and agitating for the return of Abbott to Cabinet while posing as a policy discussion group.
The MPs named by The Australian are Abbott, Liberal defector Cory Bernardi, assistant ministers Michael Sukkar and Zed Seselja, former ministers Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews, along with Rick Wilson, Andrew Hastie, Ian Goodenough, Nicolle Flint, Jonathon Duniam, Craig Kelly, Scott Buchholz and Tony Pasin.
The Huffington Post Australia has reached out to several members of the group, but is yet to hear back.
So far only one government MP has attempted to deny the existence of "The Deplorables," with Craig Kelly using the term "fake news," to describe the report.
Prominent backbencher Tim Wilson said the grouping was a "storm in a teacup" and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has attempted to make light of the situation by instead referring to them as the "The Magnificent".
What is not so magnificent for the Government is the latest Newspoll result which is now in the realm of "worst ever".
"This is a wake-up call for all of us in the Liberal-National party," Cormann told RN Breakfast.
The government has absolutely roasted the former PM https://t.co/Qo9sx09jjZ— HuffPost Australia (@HuffPostAU) February 24, 2017
The finance minister laid blame squarely at Abbott's feet after describing his former leader last week as "delusional."
"I'm not surprised, obviously with the public discussions over the last three or four days -- I'm not surprised that people are marking us down for that."
The Turnbull Government now trails Labor 45 to 55 per cent, two party preferred. That's the lowest support for the Coalition Malcolm Turnbull toppled Tony Abbott.
And hello One Nation. The primary vote for Pauline Hanson's party is now tied with the Greens at 10 per cent.
A separate poll, commissioned by the Australia Institute, has One Nation piling the pressure on conservative firebrand George Christensen in his Queensland seat of Dawson. It is around two years out from the next federal election and One Nation and the LNP are now neck and neck on first preference votes.
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