The controversial Medicare co-payment looks set to be dumped, as Tony Abbott seeks to quell leadership tensions and reset his government.
Critics of the prime minister have pulled back from talk of a second leadership spill motion during this week’s parliamentary sitting.
Liberal MPs have, for the moment, resigned themselves to giving Mr Abbott time to rebuild the coalition’s electoral stocks and deliver on his promise to listen to backbench concerns.
Monday night’s cabinet meeting and Tuesday’s party room meeting are both expected to endorse ditching the $5 co-payment for a visit to the doctor.
“The government will have more to say in due course,” Mr Abbott told parliament when Labor asked about the policy reversal on Monday.
But the coalition is expected to stick with other measures such as university fees deregulation, which has yet to be debated in the Senate, and an earn-or-learn policy for young unemployed.
Taking some of the pressure off Mr Abbott’s leadership was the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll, which put the coalition slightly behind Labor 49-51 per cent, but up from the 46-54 result in January.
Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen, who was one of 39 MPs to back a motion to spill the leadership three weeks ago, summed it up.
“It’s a positive result,” he said of the poll.
“The prime minister is changing the way that he’s doing things and I think that that is being reflected in public sentiment.”
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Dr Frank Jones told AAP doctors were aware of talk about the co-payment.
But Dr Jones said the government should go further and also consider removing the freeze on Medicare patient rebates.
“GPs will be forced to pass on increasing out-of-pocket costs to patients, as the effective value for patient rebates continues to fall over the next four years,” he said.
Mr Abbott is also on Tuesday expected to reveal details of a joint military operation with New Zealand to train Iraqi forces to fight Islamic State.
Meanwhile, government ministers say those touting a leadership change to either Malcolm Turnbull or Julie Bishop should pull their heads in.
“I think it’s dying because the voters have spoken,” Trade Minister Andrew Robb said of the poll results.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the Ipsos poll showed focusing on “things that matter” worked.
In the past fortnight the government has taken steps toward tightening foreign investment rules, improving national security and better food labelling.
Voters have also benefited from cuts to mortgage borrowing rates, after a central bank reduction last month.
But Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the poll numbers didn’t matter.
“The numbers that matter here is unemployment is rising, there’s still a GP tax … then you’ve got pension cuts,” he said.
Launching a Labor policy to tackle tax avoidance, he said voters wanted more discussion about ideas and less about personalities.