Malcolm Turnbull

Abbott says Turnbull must 'explain' if he loses two more Newspolls

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Malcolm Turnbull has led the Coalition to a 28th consecutive Newspoll loss - just two behind the 30 lost by Tony Abbott when he was replaced as Liberal leader

Tony Abbott has warned he will call on Malcolm Turnbull to explain why he should remain prime minister if he loses another two Newspolls.

When Mr Turnbull rolled Mr Abbott as prime minister in 2015, he justified the change by saying the government’s loss of 30 consecutive News Corp opinion polls showed the Coalition was in an election-losing position.

Mr Turnbull himself has now lost 28 in a row.

"It was the prime minister who set this test, and I guess if he fails the test it will be the prime minister who has to explain why the test was right for one and not right for the other," Mr Abbott told 2GB radio.

"It'll be up to him to tell us all why the test doesn't apply in his case."

Mr Abbott repeated his policy suggestions of cutting immigration numbers and building a new coal-fired power station.

The latest poll published in The Australian on Monday shows the two-party preferred vote remains unchanged, with Labor leading the Coalition 53-47.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has closed some of the gap with Mr Turnbull as preferred prime minister.

Mr Shorten is now on 35 per cent compared with Mr Turnbull’s 37 per cent.

Returning Nationals minister Keith Pitt, who will be sworn back onto the frontbench on Monday, conceded it had been a messy start to the year but said his constituents were not interested in the gossip and rumours.

"I don't work on the set of Days of Our Lives. This a serious building where serious decisions are made and we continue to be focused on that," he told Sky News.

Labor frontbencher Michelle Rowland said the government was too focused on attacking Mr Shorten.

"If they spent more time focusing on the Australian people ... they would see much better results," she told Sky News.

- with AAP

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