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Napthine's response to poor poll results

Denis Napthine says Victorians will be choosing between a "tired old Labor Party" and his Coalition government at the end of November.

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Labor has extended a crushing lead over the Napthine government as fallout from the federal budget, ongoing chaos in the Parliament and internal Liberal Party ructions continue to erode the Coalition’s re-election hopes.

Five months from the November 29 state election, an Age/Nielsen poll reveals the state government failed to gain political traction from the May budget, despite a $27 billion major projects agenda.

The poll of 1000 Victorians reveals the Coalition is now deeply mired, trailing Labor 41 per cent to 59 per cent in two-party preferred terms based on voters' intended preference allocations.

Opposition leader Daniel Andrews and Premier Denis Napthine.

Labor has its biggest two-party-preferred lead since 2008: Opposition leader Daniel Andrews and Premier Denis Napthine. Photo: Wayne Taylor

If an election were held now the Coalition would lose, becoming Victoria’s first single-term government since 1955, with the loss of up to 16 seats under new electoral boundaries, assuming a uniform 11 per cent swing since the November 2010 election.

Even using a more conservative two-party-preferred measure based on preference flows at the 2010 election, the Coalition is in strife, according to the poll – trailing Labor 44 per cent to 56 per cent.

The result comes amid a growing sense of panic within government ranks after months of controversy – the latest involving a leaked recording of former premier Ted Baillieu criticising colleagues.


Party sources are now warning that right-wing Liberal “jihadists” are seeking to undermine the government in an attempt to seize control of the party and its agenda following the November 29 election.

Premier Denis Napthine on Wednesday insisted the government was united and focused on delivering results for the people of Victoria, saying he “totally disagreed” with claims the party was in danger of being hijacked.

“This is of interest to the media, but the general public … want us to get on with governing for the people of Victoria,” Dr Napthine said.

The Coalition’s primary vote has fallen from 41 per cent to 37 per cent, with Labor on 42 per cent and the Greens on 14 per cent.

The poll confirmed the deep cuts inflicted by the Abbott government’s first budget and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s unpopularity in Victoria have significantly damaged the state government’s re-election chances.

Almost four in 10 voters, 39 per cent, said they were less likely to vote for the Coalition at the state election because of the federal budget, with only 5 per cent stating they were more likely.

And despite the state government’s big-spending infrastructure agenda – which now includes both sections of the East West Link, a new train tunnel to boost capacity on the rail network, an airport rail link and level crossing upgrades – the state budget appears to have had little positive impact.

Only 4 per cent of voters said they were more likely to vote for the Coalition because of the state budget, with 29 per cent saying they were less likely and 65 per cent stating it would make no difference.

Although Dr Napthine remains relatively popular, the Premier’s approval rating fell 3 percentage points to 48 per cent, while his disapproval rating leapt 5 percentage points to 37 per cent.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews' approval rating remained steady at 41 per cent, with his disapproval rating down slightly to 36 per cent.

But the poll revealed Mr Andrews is now closing the gap as preferred premier, with Dr Napthine leading by 41 per cent to 40 per cent.

Nielsen pollster John Stirton said it was Labor’s biggest two-party preferred lead in Victoria since February 2008.