Labor avoids tough fight in marginal seat

Outgoing NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro will not contest the federal seat of Eden-Monaro.
Outgoing NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro will not contest the federal seat of Eden-Monaro.

Federal Labor has avoided a high-profile challenge for a key marginal seat with retiring NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro ruling out a tilt for Eden-Monaro.

The decision came as the latest Newspoll kept Labor in an election-winning 53-47 two-party preferred lead over Scott Morrison's Liberal-National coalition.

Mr Barilaro on Monday resigned as NSW Nationals leader, deputy premier and the seat of Monaro politics after more than 10 years in state parliament.

He said he had no intention of contesting the federal seat of Eden-Monaro at the next election, due by May.

"I will be a keen watcher of politics but not a participant," he told reporters.

"I'm looking to a new career."

Mr Barilaro previously considered running for the marginal seat of Eden-Monaro at a by-election in 2020.

However, he withdrew from nominating for pre-selection following controversy after leaked text messages showed Mr Barilaro criticising the leadership of then-federal Nationals leader Michael McCormack.

Mr McCormack has since lost the top Nationals job to Barnaby Joyce.

Eden-Monaro was retained by Labor by just 735 votes at last year's by-election.

Labor faces a significant challenge in the neighbouring seat of Gilmore.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced on Sunday he would leave state politics to contest Gilmore, which was won by Labor's Fiona Phillips in 2019 with a margin of 2.6 per cent.

The pre-election period has seen its share of problems for the coalition in choosing candidates, especially in WA where sitting Liberal MPs have been challenged for pre-selection.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told the WA Labor conference on Sunday the government was dealing with a "rabble of infighting and pre-selection battles".

The latest Newspoll has Labor and the coalition on 37 per cent of the primary vote.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's approval rating has risen two points to 48 per cent, but the leader has a net approval rating of minus one.

The poll found 37 per cent approval rating for Mr Albanese, but net approval rating was minus 10.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said Labor would remain competitive at the next election.

"There's lots of encouragement in that poll today," Dr Chalmers told the Nine Network.

"If (the polls) couldn't pick the outcome a few days out from the last election, it's not going to pick the outcome a few months out from this election."

Australian Associated Press