More evidence that the Coalition is ending the year in a very slightly better position than it’s been in over the past few months, this time courtesy of Newspoll in The Australian, which records Labor’s lead narrowing to 52-48 from 53-47 a fortnight ago. The Coalition now leads 39% to 36% on the primary vote, after a 38% draw in the last poll, with the Greens steady at 10%. Malcolm Turnbull is down two points on approval to 32% and up one on disapproval to 55%, while Bill Shorten is respectively down two to 34% and steady at 51%. Turnbull holds a 41-32 lead as preferred prime minister, compared with 43-33 in the last poll. The accompanying report has further results on the salience of jobs, asylum seekers and same-sex marriage as political issues. The poll was conducted Thursday to Sunday from a sample of 1629.

UPDATE (Essential Research): After a week at 51-49, Essential Research moves back a point in favour of Labor, who now lead 52-48. The most interesting aspect of the primary vote is that One Nation have gained a point to reach a new high of 8%, with the Coalition down one to 38%, and Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team steady at 36%, 9% and 3%. The most interesting of the supplementary questions records approval ratings for senior government ministers, which finds Julie Bishop to be by far the government’s most popular figure, with 52% approval and 23% disapproval. Christopher Pyne, Barnaby Joyce, Greg Hunt, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison more or less break even, but George Brandis has a net rating of minus 8%, and Hunt records a particularly high “don’t know” rating.

A “party trust to handle issues” question records a slight deterioration across the board for the Coalition since August, the biggest mover being “controlling interest rates”, on which their lead has narrowed from 12% to 7%. On a series of “party best at looking after the economy” questions, the Coalition has an 11% lead over Labor on “handling the economy overall”, but a less helpful 33% lead on “representing the interests of the large corporate and financial interests”, with nothing separating the parties on “handling the economy in a way that best helps the middle class” and “handling the economy in a way that helps you and people like you the most”. Also canvassed: voluntary euthanasia, Gonski funding, climate change, and where we go when we die.

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