Culture

Leigh Sales Grilled Malcolm Turnbull On His Tanking Approval Ratings On ‘7.30’ Last Night

"Would you agree that people have been disappointed in you?"

Six months ago, it seemed as though Malcolm Turnbull would win the election just by showing up and remembering to breathe. He was immensely popular against a widely disliked Bill Shorten, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey were gone, and he had the chance to implement popular policies he was associated with like marriage equality, action on climate change and working towards a republic.

Cut to now, and there’s every chance Turnbull could actually lose this thing. His approval rating has plummeted even as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s has risen, and Labor are neck-and-neck with the Coalition in the polls as well. Even worse for Turnbull, people seem to dislike him the more they see of him, which the election campaign provides them plenty of opportunity to do.

Turnbull fronted that unpleasant reality last night on 7.30, where host Leigh Sales questioned why he felt the need to remove a first-term Prime Minister if the government was doing so well and why he was “disrespecting voters’ intelligence” by claiming that Labor have declared “war” on small businesses.

But sparks really flew when Sales turned the interview’s focus to opinion polling. Pointing out that his approval rating has dropped by 50 points since he took office, Sales proposed: “You can’t not be bothered by that, and not be asking yourself what’s gone wrong.”

Turnbull initially tried to wriggle his way out of that discussion,giving the classic politician’s line that he is “not very interested at all in opinion polls” — even though he cited polling as one of the main reasons he should replace Tony Abbott during the leadership spill last year.

Sales wasn’t having a bar of it, though. “People watching this also want to know that you’re listening to them, and what those polls tell you is that you’re doing something that they don’t like,” she replied. “What do you think has happened, that you’ve lost that ginormous chunk of approval?”

Turnbull didn’t have an answer for that, or for Sales’ follow-up: “Isn’t it the case that if your colleagues had known this is where you would be three weeks before an election, they wouldn’t have backed you to replace Tony Abbott?”

Turnbull might not have had adequate answers for Sales last night, but those questions aren’t going away any time soon. Skip to 14:00 in the video below to watch the exchange.