Opposition Leader Bill Shorten denies he has an image problem and disdains “personality” politics.The Turnbull government has seized on a poll showing almost half of all voters would prefer someone other than Bill Shorten to lead the Labor Party.
“This is going to be a very bleak year for Bill Shorten – unfortunately the public have found him out,” cabinet minister Christopher Pyne told ABC radio on Monday.
Mr Pyne was responding to the first Newspoll of the year showing Tanya Plibersek (25 per cent) is the preferred Labor leader among all voters closely followed by Anthony Albanese (24 per cent) with Mr Shorten on 22 per cent.
Among Labor voters, Mr Shorten was a clear choice with 37 per cent backing him over Ms Plibersek (27 per cent) and Mr Albanese (23 per cent).
Senior Labor frontbencher Tony Burke believes Mr Shorten will lead Labor to the next election.
“We don’t want to go back to the days, which the Liberal Party are still in, of constant leadership change and speculation,” he said.
His colleague Stephen Jones saw a silver lining in the preferred leader results: “Isn’t it good to be a member of a party where we’ve got such a talented frontbench that everybody’s looking at it and saying, ‘Geez, you’re all doing an outstanding job, there’s so many of you who are popular within the electorate’.”
And health spokeswoman Catherine King – who joined Mr Shorten at the weekend to announce Labor’s new policy to limit private health insurance price hikes – denied the leader was having trouble getting his message through to voters.
“We’ve got a long way to go before this year is out and the election is out,” she told reporters in Canberra.
The Newspoll also showed Malcolm Turnbull stretch his lead over Mr Shorten, 45-31 per cent, as preferred prime minister.