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Good work not reflected in polls: Tony Abbott

AAP logoAAP 27/09/2016 Elise Scott

When Tony Abbott had an "excellent" trip to Asia in 2014 to finalise the Japan free trade agreement and make "giant strides" towards one with China, his government's standing with voters went down.

It was a mystery, the former prime minister said on Tuesday as he tried to explain a similar dip for the Turnbull government.

Primary vote support for the coalition has dropped below 40 per cent in the latest Newspoll - lower than when Mr Abbott was at the helm.

He insists his successor Malcolm Turnbull has had a good fortnight, making a modest but significant move towards budget repair with a $6.3 billion savings bill.

But that is not always reflected in the polls, as he found out following that Asia trip in 2014.

"It was a wonderful week for Australian diplomacy and the polls went down," he told radio 3AW.

The coalition's primary vote has dipped below 40 per cent for the first time under the Turnbull government - lower than before Tony Abbott was toppled. © AAP Image The coalition's primary vote has dipped below 40 per cent for the first time under the Turnbull government - lower than before Tony Abbott was toppled. "These things are a bit of a mystery for all of us."

The poll, published in The Australian, shows Labor has a two-party preferred lead of four percentage points over the coalition - 52 to 48 per cent - its largest since Mr Turnbull took power.

Mr Turnbull remains the preferred prime minister over Bill Shorten but less than one-third of voters are satisfied with his performance and more than half are dissatisfied.

The former prime minister is still offering tips to boost popularity, including talking about economic and national security even if budget repair does not get through the difficult Senate.

"I note that Malcolm Turnbull has recently been ratcheting up the arguments on budget repair," he said.

The poll shows the coalition's primary vote has fallen three points in the past fortnight to 38 per cent and is down four points since the election 12 weeks ago.

Primary support for Labor has risen one point to 37 per cent, while the Greens have gained one point to 10 per cent and other parties and independents have climbed a combined one point to 15 per cent.

In the final Newspoll under Mr Abbott's leadership in September last year, the coalition's primary vote was 39 per cent.

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