Tuesday 27 September 2011

Gillard more bad poll news

Labor behind in every age group, every state - now Julia Gillard has a 'women problem': Newspoll
Annabel Horne
Annabel Horne, 37 - in Coogee in Sydney's east with son Robbie, 5 - says she has been disappointed with Labor during Julia Gillard's leadership. Picture: Dan Himbrechts Source: The Australian

THE Gillard government faces the loss of more than half its seats in NSW - including four held by ministers - and a wipeout in Queensland, where Kevin Rudd would be the only MP certain to hold his seat.

For the first time since the election in August last year, the Coalition is in front on a two-party-preferred basis in all mainland states, with Labor having suffered swings against it of between three and nine percentage points.

According to a quarterly analysis of Newspoll surveys conducted exclusively for The Australian from July to this month, Labor's primary vote is now below 30 per cent in every mainland state except Victoria, where it has dropped five points to 32 per cent.

The advantage Labor and Australia's first female Prime Minister had among women and younger voters has been lost and support in the strongest Labor state of Victoria has crashed, along with personal support for Ms Gillard in her home state. At the last election, Ms Gillard led Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister among women voters by 52 per cent to 33 per cent.

Schools Minister Peter Garrett's seat of Kingsford-Smith in Sydney's east is one that would fall if an election were held now. Annabel Horne, who lives in the electorate, is among a growing number of long-time ALP voters who are questioning whether the party has lost touch.

Ms Horne said the Gillard government had disappointed her by defending offshore processing of asylum-seekers and with its attempt to introduce a carbon tax, which she believed would have negligible impact on the climate.

"This Labor government has failed terribly on the refugees; they should be treated humanely," she said. "It seems like the government's in a position where they're just grasping for anything they can get hold of. I like Julia Gillard but I didn't think Kevin Rudd was doing such a bad job.

"A lot of people I know are very disappointed with this government." Despite her dissatisfaction with Labor, Ms Horne said she was unlikely to change her vote from Labor at the next election, due in 2013. When April Noon, from Thornlands, east of Brisbane, cast her ballot at the last federal election, the idea of a woman leading Australia was one of the driving reasons for her vote. Now the lustre of the nation's first female prime minister has worn off for the 22-year-old bank operations assistant, who has become disappointed in Ms Gillard's leadership.

Ms Noon, who lives in the LNP-held electorate of Bowman, said Ms Gillard's failure to sell the carbon tax to the public and the constant bickering across the political divide had led her to consider voting conservative for the first time. Ms Noon said she did not consider either leader particularly likeable, and that her vote could be won with a leadership change.

She said she would happily support Labor under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, as she had in the 2007 election. "If Kevin came back, definitely - I love Kevin," she said. "I would be more inclined to vote [Labor]." Women voters' satisfaction with Ms Gillard showed an eight-point decline - the biggest single fall of any measure in the three-month period - from 38 per cent to 30 per cent and disatisfaction rose from 48 to 58 per cent.

At the election Ms Gillard's satisfaction rating amongst women was 45 per cent and dissatisfaction was 40 per cent - a net satisfaction rating of five. The net satisfaction rating is now minus 28 per cent amongst women. Satisfaction with Mr Abbott among female voters is 35 per cent and disatisfaction is 54 per cent, up two points, giving a satisfaction rating of minus 19.

Support for the ALP and Ms Gillard is now as bad or worse in NSW and Western Australia as it is in Queensland, which has been a disaster for the ALP and where Labor essentially lost its majority at the 2010 election.

Mr Abbott is now the preferred prime minister in every state except Victoria and leads Ms Gillard for the first time in NSW, South Australia, Western Australia, in regional areas and amongst older voters. Primary support for the Coalition is 50 per cent or more in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and among older voters and people outside the capital cities.

If Labor faced an election with support at these levels 16 MPs would lose their seats in NSW, including four ministers; in Queensland seven MPs, including Wayne Swan and Trade Minister Craig Emerson, would lose their seats and only the Foreign Minister, who won his seat with 58 per cent of the vote, would be certain to hold on.

In NSW the right wing would be cleaned out, including potential future leaders Chris Bowen and Tony Burke. The only frontbenchers to survive would be Left ministers Anthony Albanese, Tanya Plibersek and Greg Combet, as well as the right's rising star, Jason Clare.

Up to five MPs could lose in Victoria but it would remain Labor's strongest state with 17 survivors including the prime minister and ministers Martin Ferguson, Nicola Roxon, Brendan O'Connor, Simon Crean, Jenny Macklin and leadership contender, Bill Shorten.

The July-September period was dominated by the introduction of the carbon tax, the Prime Minister's negotiations on the Malaysian solution and local campaigns against restrictions on poker machine gambling.

Additional reporting: Jared Owens, Rosanne Barrett, Annalise Moore

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