Liberal MP focus group to target housing policy in bid to win back

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has formed a focus group to win back voters in capital cities after the Liberals suffered a disastrous loss in the previously safe seat of Aston.

The Liberal Party are in crisis mode after they were unable to retain Aston, in Melbourne’s outer east, with the government wining a seat off an opposition and securing a 6.5 per cent swing, in a by-election for the first time since 1920.

Adding salt to the wound, the latest Newspoll published by the Australian has shown the Coalition popularity has slumped to its lowest point since September, recording only a 33 per cent primary vote.

The informal group, led by Mr Dutton, has reportedly set its sights on overhauling housing policy and helping young Australians purchase their first home, as they scrambled for ideas voters can get behind.

South Australia Liberal MP James Stevens told The Age that the group was pursuing “aggressive” policies to both boost housing stock and make it easier to crack into the market.

“Our focus has been on being cohesive and talking about how we’ve got to the position we are, using fact-based decision-making to dramatically address a loss of connection with a huge, formerly reliable part of our constituency,” Mr Stevens told The Age.

“Supporting or not supporting government policies is far less important than having our own suite of ideas that make people say: ‘You know what, I want the Liberals, that is going to make me feel better about my economic security’.”

The housing focus aims to win back seats in the major cities of Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to avoid wipe out, with the Coalition only holding four of 45 inner metropolitan seats.

The group reportedly also includes housing spokesman Michael Sukkar, manager of opposition business Paul Fletcher and Menzies MP Keith Wolahan.

Other informal policy proposals include axing taxes like stamp duty, which often deter people from buying a home, and achieving the economic security associated.

With an ageing population, the pivot to helping young people secure a home could win back a new group of voters, with research showing homeowners are more likely to vote Liberal.

Independent Senator Jackie Lambie agreed the Coalition needed to chase “fresh blood” amid widespread criticism that the party did not know its own focus, alienating voters.

“It is not Peter Dutton that should be taking the full responsibility of this, it is his whole team and they need to look forward to the future,” she told Sky News Australia on Monday.

“Instead of going after old ground start looking for some new fresh blood out there, that’s sitting maybe on that right side of Labor.

“They just need to get a little bit more left especially on social policy.”

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