Australian PM Morrison’s approval rating rises, poll shows

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was a "ridiculous assertion" that China had warned against racist attacks against Asians during the pandemic.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approval rating has risen slightly, a poll showed on Monday, as measures by the conservative government to tackle the coronavirus pandemic helped to maintain his popularity.

A Newspoll conducted for The Australian newspaper showed Morrison’s performance rating rose a percentage point to 65% from a month earlier, just short of highs of 68% in June and July.

Morrison also recovered ground as the preferred prime minister after a dip in the previous poll, with the number of people supporting him nudging a point higher to 59%, the poll showed.

Steps taken by Australia’s federal government have helped the country to record far fewer COVID-19 infections and deaths than many other developed countries, although the restrictions have taken a steep toll on the economy.

The government introduced a wage subsidy scheme and other initiatives to help protect jobs and support the economy, boosting Morrison’s popularity.

The lift in ratings follows a decision last week to raise the number of citizens allowed to return home each week to 6,000, while a second wave of coronavirus infections in Victoria state has been easing.

The federal Liberal-National coalition remained ahead of the opposition Labor party on a two-party preferred basis, at 51% to 49%.

Australia has so far recorded a total of just over 26,900 novel coronavirus infections and 851 deaths, mainly in Victoria.

The poll was based on surveys of just over 2,000 voters across the capital cities of states and other regions from Wednesday to Saturday.