Business warns Labor and Anthony Albanese that poll shock could be caused by ‘nature positive’ law plans

Katina Curtis and Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Anthony Albanese’s Government is facing a shift in support. Business sources have pointed to the overhaul of environmental approval laws as a cause.
Anthony Albanese’s Government is facing a shift in support. Business sources have pointed to the overhaul of environmental approval laws as a cause. Credit: TheWest

Business is warning the Federal Government isn’t listening to industry or voters — but Labor is not panicking despite falling poll numbers.

Multiple business sources say it appears the Government does not recognise the impact of policies such as the overhaul of environmental approval laws, particularly in the resources sector.

After a 10-point swing away from the Coalition in WA delivered Labor an extra four seats and the keys to the Lodge in 2022, polling shows support is returning to more usual levels.

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Senior Labor insiders say it is not uncommon for governments to have a mid-term dip in the polls, pointing out the party has not come second on any Newspoll since before the election.

Labor’s primary vote in WA has dropped by three points to 34 per cent while the Liberals gained four points to 39 per cent, according to an analysis of Newspoll for the first quarter of the year.

Support for the Greens and One Nation dropped considerably, putting the Coalition ahead 51-49 — a six-point change in WA since the 2022 election.

But the swings in WA were so large that even if that were replicated at the election anticipated to be a year away, Labor would only lose Tangney.

Liberals have repeatedly made it clear that Tangney and Curtin, held by independent Kate Chaney, are their main target seats.

Madeleine King, WA’s most senior Federal minister, said speculating about polls was not helpful and strong community activity was a local member’s advantage.

“The gains Labor had in Western Australia at the last election, each (of the seats) have local members who are diligently working in their communities all the time,” she said.

“When the real poll comes on election day, that work will put them in a very good place.”

Energy Minister Chris Bowen said every member of the Government was focused on doing their job.

“We take no seat for granted, no voter for granted in Western Australia or any other state,” he said.

However, business sources believe the government has underestimated the depth of concern in the community about some policies.

“When the Federal Government introduces such retrograde industrial relations laws and puts on the table the prospect of additional complexity in environmental regulation, then it’s inevitable that concerns around the long-term health of the WA and national economies will rise,” WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry head Chris Rodwell said.

“And inevitably, those concerns will cascade through businesses and across the community.”

Some in WA Labor are also privately concerned about the potential impact of the environmental laws, although they say the industrial relations changes will not hurt as much as opponents claim.

Nationals frontbencher Barnaby Joyce said no one should be complacent about polling numbers.

“You have to be careful about the natural fall, don’t you, otherwise you fall out of government,” he said.

Senior Liberal Michaelia Cash said the Government had become a rabble.

“Mr Albanese has been fond of saying his Government is ‘operating as a mature, orderly government’. The evidence says otherwise,” she writes in The Nightly.

“To the detriment of our nation, the Albanese Labor Government has become chronically incompetent and dysfunctional.”

West Australians were the most likely to have made up their minds about Mr Albanese and had the highest level of satisfaction with his performance in the Newspoll.

But they were the least likely to have decided who would be a better prime minister, with 23 per cent undecided, 43 per cent opting for Mr Albanese and 34 per cent saying Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.

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