Melbourne: Kevin Rudd has emerged in a
latest poll as the candidate most preferred by Australians to
lead the country, ahead of Prime Minister Julia Gillard who
overthrew him in a party coup 10 months back.
The poll suggests that support for the ruling Labor
party has hit a 15-year low and that for the first time more
voters disapprove the job Gillard is doing.
Rudd and Liberal party leader Malcolm Turnbull are by
far the preferred men to lead the main parties.
Gillard`s approval rating fell two points to 45 per
cent in the Herald/Neilsen poll and her disapproval rose three
points to 50 per cent, giving her a "net negative" of minus
These are her worst ratings since June when she rolled
out Rudd, although the latter`s approval rating was still
lower at 41 per cent when he was ousted.
But the former prime minister appears to have redeemed
himself in the eyes of voters.
In a direct match-up, 55 per cent prefer him as prime
minister compared with 38 per cent for Gillard.
In the past month, the opposition Coalition has
stretched its two party-preferred lead over Labor by four
percentage points while the government`s efforts to sell the
carbon tax by spiking generous compensation for low and middle
income households has failed to lift support for the policy,
media reports said.
Primary support for the Coalition was 47 per cent, a
2-point rise, and its highest since February 2005, just after
Mark Latham quit as Labor leader.
The Greens remained steady on 12 per cent.
On a two-party preferred basis, the Coalition leads
Labor by 56 per cent to 44 per cent.
Since the last poll a month ago, support for a price
on carbon is relatively unchanged at 34 per cent but
opposition has risen 3 points to 59 per cent.
The telephonic poll of 1400 voters that was taken last
week suggested that Labor`s primary vote was 2 points lower
than a month ago at 31 per cent, its lowest level since May
1996, just after the defeat of the Keating government.
Leader of the opposition Liberal party, Tony Abbott`s
personal ratings are relatively unchanged with 42 per cent
approval and 51 per cent disapproval.
But Turnbull is streets ahead as preferred Coalition
leader. The poll showed he has 41 per cent support, a 4-point
increase in a month, compared with 28 per cent for Abbott, a
3-point drop, and an unchanged 23 per cent for the shadow
treasurer, Joe Hockey.
Turnbull is more popular with Labor and Greens voters
than with Coalition voters.
She might be lagging behind her predecessor, but
Gillard leads her direct rival Abbott as the preferred prime
minister by 50 per cent to 42 per cent.
The Labor-led government has warned of a tough budget
next month because of the need to return to surplus in the
2012-13 financial year.
At the poll 61 per cent of the voters said the surplus
target is important but "can wait a couple of years", while 29
per cent set the target as "high priority", 8 per cent put it
at "a low priority".
The government is also battling the club and hotel
industries to satisfy a demand by Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie
to put limits on the use of poker machines. For this, it has
66 per cent support.