Australian PM’s Poll Struggles Persist Even After Industry Push

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(Bloomberg) -- Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is struggling to build support for his government one year out from a likely election, even as it received strong backing for a new industry policy to bolster domestic green energy and high-tech manufacturing.

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The latest Newspoll survey released by The Australian newspaper showed the center-left government’s rating was stable at 51%, on a two-party preferred basis, just narrowly ahead of the Liberal-National opposition at 49%.

A separate poll conducted by Resolve found support for Labor had fallen to its lowest level since the 2022 election. It showed that 55% of respondents said they were on the brink of struggling to meet their financial commitments.

Many Australians are caught in a pincer of rising prices and elevated borrowing costs that are stretching their finances, particularly with the nation’s household debt among the world’s highest. The government has been banking on tax cuts and interest-rate reductions to help restore its standing; however, persistent inflation strength may mean the Reserve Bank is unable to cut this year.

Newspoll showed Albanese maintained a net negative approval rating, with overall support for his performance at minus 6, although that has steadily improved from minus 15 recorded at the end of 2023.

Australia is due to hold an election by May 2025, and despite the weakening of its rating, Albanese’s Labor party is favored to win the ballot even if it’s forced into minority government with the support of independent lawmakers.

Australia’s inflation data for the first quarter of 2024 will be released on Wednesday and economists predict it slowed to an annual 3.5% from 4.1%. The RBA aims to keep the CPI between 2-3%.

Labor’s slim poll lead comes despite a positive response by voters to Albanese’s plans for a Future Made in Australia Act, designed to stimulate domestic manufacturing and high-tech industry in a similar fashion to the US’s Inflation Reduction Act.

In total, 56% said Australia should be actively investing in helping the economy develop new local industries and clean energy jobs, according to Newspoll, while 38% said they wanted to see reduced energy costs to promote growth.

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