Australian Parliament sits for first time since election

AP News
Posted: Aug 30, 2016 12:13 AM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's Parliament met Tuesday for the first time since the conservative government narrowly won an election almost two months ago and as an opinion poll showed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's popularity falling.

Lawmakers were sworn in after the election on July 2 left Turnbull's coalition with 76 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives.

A Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper on Tuesday showed that Turnbull's popularity had sunk to its lowest point since he ousted the polarizing Tony Abbott as prime minister a year ago in a ballot of lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Party.

Although more respondents prefer Turnbull as prime minister than they would opposition leader Bill Shorten, Turnbull's lead — 43 percent to 32 percent — is the narrowest since he took the top job.

The government remained neck and neck with the center-left Labor Party with 50 percent support for each. The government won a second three-year term with 50.4 percent of the vote.

The poll was a national weekend survey of 1,696 voters. It had a 2.4 percentage point margin of error.

The government has said that its priority would be to reign in the national deficit, but that task has been made difficult by its reduced majority in the House of Representatives and the fact it has only a minority in the Senate.

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At an Aboriginal welcoming ceremony at Parliament House early Tuesday, Turnbull called for a new era of political cooperation.

"So let us continue the 45th Parliament in the way we begin it today — with mutual respect, goodwill and a shared commitment to advance Australia and all Australians," Turnbull said.