Monday 17 October 2011

Tony Abbott would win an election in a landslide if it were held as voters oppose carbon tax

Gillard Abbott Hall
Julia Gillard ... unpopular after passing the carbon tax. Source: The Australian

TONY Abbott would be handed an overwhelming mandate to abolish the carbon tax if the coalition won the next election and he became the prime minister.

A clear majority of voters, 60 per cent, believe the Opposition Leader would have the electoral and moral authority to repeal the tax. With the government's asylum seeker policy also in disarray, the Coalition's primary vote has now soared to a crushing 51 per cent, according to a Galaxy poll commissioned by The Daily Telegraph. It is the largest primary vote the coalition has enjoyed in any poll since 1996 - when John Howard defeated Paul Keating - with Labor now stuck at a morale-sapping 29 per cent.

The devastating figures suggest the government's jubilation over the passage of its carbon tax through the lower house last week has backfired. And that its bungled handling of its proposed changes to the Migration Act to stop boat arrivals has stalled any recovery that Julia Gillard may have hoped for.
On a two party-preferred basis the Coalition now leads Labor 58 per cent to 42 per cent, due to the flow of Greens preferences back to Labor. But even this would mean half of the current lower house Labor MPs would be wiped out.The only silver lining for Julia Gillard was that with the carbon tax legislation passed, there appeared a slight bounce in support for the tax.

The number of voters now in favour has increased to 34 per cent from a low of 29 per cent in July. But almost double were still opposed to it.Ms Gillard has also managed to peg back marginally, the lead held by Kevin Rudd as the preferred Labor leader.

But Mr Rudd is still the person most voters would like to see take back the leadership of the Labor Party and take the government to an election, with 53 per cent support for him compared to 29 per cent for Ms Gillard.A slight increase to Ms Gillard has come from Labor voters, who now favour Ms Gillard 50 per cent to Mr Rudd's 43 per cent, suggesting that the Prime Minister's public support appears to be rooted in an ever diminishing base of Labor voters. Success in passing the carbon tax legislation has enabled Ms Gillard to close the gap on Mr Rudd as the best choice to lead the federal Labor Party, Galaxy CEO David Briggs said.

But the majority of Australians are still opposed to the tax and the Labor Party would be turfed out of office if an election was held now.The shift has occurred because Labor supporters have rallied around Julia Gillard.But with Labor at 29 per cent, her support appears to be coming from a shrinking base.

Labor strategists said the poll reflected what Rudd supporters feared that eventually the problems facing the government would start to eat into the former PM's renewed popularity as well.All the electoral damage from the carbon tax and bungled asylum seeker policy, both issues on which the Greens have claimed victory, has come at Labor's expense and not the Greens. They have maintained a steady primary vote of 12 per cent.

If Tony Abbott wins the next election he would have a mandate to abolish the tax, Mr Briggs said. This is more than double the figure - 28 per cent in a Galaxy Poll conducted in July - that believed Julia Gillard had a mandate to introduce the carbon tax.

The Galaxy Poll was conducted exclusively for The Daily Telegraph on the weekend of October 14-16 and was based on a large national sample of 1009 voters.

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