Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
A senior Liberal has conceded Tony Abbott's aggressive prosecution of the Gillard government might be partly responsible for the Opposition Leader's record low standing with voters.
The latest Newspoll, published on Tuesday, shows nearly two out of three voters are dissatisfied with Mr Abbott's performance.
He also trails Julia Gillard as preferred prime minister by 14 percentage points.
Shadow attorney-general George Brandis said the Coalition was not surprised by the latest results.
''Inevitably, the personal vilification of Tony Abbott by the Prime Minister and the Labor Party dirt unit was going to have an impact,'' he told Sky News.
But Senator Brandis noted the opposition was in an election-winning position, the poll showing the Coalition ahead of Labor 51 per cent to 49 per cent after preferences.
''The real test is what the parties' standing are in the bottom line,'' he said.
Senator Brandis agreed Mr Abbott's ''aggressively prosecuting'' Labor's failings also may have had an impact on the Opposition Leader's standing with voters.
''Sometimes the public don't particularly like negative messages,'' he said.
Cabinet minister Craig Emerson described Mr Abbott as ''a policy weakling''.
''Sure he's got all these accolades for being incredibly negative and attacking the government but is that really the credentials the Australian people are looking for?'' he told Sky News.
Dr Emerson was not surprised Labor trailed the Coalition.
''I would expect an opposition to be in front around a year before a general election,'' he said, adding that Labor was very competitive despite a range of tough reforms.
The Newspoll was in line with other recent polls showing Labor closing in on the Coalition, pegging back the opposition's 10-point lead from mid-August.
Ms Gillard's standing with voters also is on the rise although more than half (52 per cent) are still dissatisfied with her performance.
Mr Abbott said he would not stoop to the ''nasty, personal commentary'' of Labor .
''Every day, I'm talking to the people of Australia about what we in the Coalition can do to improve their lives,'' he told reporters in Brisbane when quizzed about reasons for his low standing with voters.
''I just want to talk about how we can be a better country, how we can give new hope to the Australian people, how Australians can be their best selves in the years to come.''
Mr Abbott said the best years for the country were ''ahead of us'' and he wanted to help to make that happen. AAP