Australian PM’s approval ratings up

A new poll, however, suggests support for Julia Gillard`s party has dropped.

Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard`s approval ratings have increased, according to a new poll, while the support for her party has dropped.

According to the Herald/Nielsen poll, the approval rating for Gillard has risen four percent to 54 percent while Opposition`s Tony Abbott, has fallen one point to 45 percent.

The ruling Labour party`s primary vote has slipped four percent to 34 percent since the September election while the Greens` primary vote rose two percent to 14 percent.

The coalition`s primary vote is steady at 43 percent.

On a two-party preferred basis, the coalition holds a 51 percent to 49 percent lead over Labour, the poll showed.

The Labour`s left faction has demanded a "social and economic" policy shift to shore up the government`s falling support.

`The Sydney Morning Herald` report said that the federal government was having trouble garnering support for its key policy initiatives, with a new poll showing the community is split on asylum seekers, climate change and saving the Murray-Darling Basin.

The poll showed the government`s decision last week to allow asylum seeker families with children to live in the community while their claims are processed is supported by 47 percent of voters, while 50 percent are opposed to it.

The other great policy challenge facing the government was to put a price on carbon. Gillard has left open all options: a carbon tax, an emissions trading scheme or a hybrid. The poll finds 46 percent support a carbon price and 44 percent are opposed.

The decision to let vulnerable families and children out of detention was a shift to the left for Labor. The Greens had been advocating such a move but the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said yesterday it had been a Labor decision and had nothing to do with pressure from the minor party.

The Labor Left met yesterday and resolved that the party needed to move to the left on social policy and to hold the line on climate change it were to win votes back from the Greens.

Bowen said that by June he wanted the "vast majority" of unaccompanied minors and "a sizeable proportion" of families in community detention facilities.

The move, combined with plans to expand detention places by 2300 more beds, has been perceived as a sign that the government`s push to establish a regional processing centre in East Timor is a long way from fruition.

Gillard will push the initiative when she departs at the end of this week to attend the East Asia Summit in Vietnam and to visit Indonesia and Malaysia.


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