Angry voters dump Labor over Rudd farce as PM’s approval rating dives

Angry voters dump Labor over Rudd farce as PM’s approval rating dives

Phillip Hudson
Herald Sun
March 26, 20133:55PM

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Voters have condemned the ALP after last week’s aborted leadership challenge. Picture: Stefan Postles/Getty Source: Getty Images

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LABOR’S ranks would be cut in half if the election were held now, with support for the Government plunging to a 12-month low and Julia Gillard’s approval rating tumbling after last week’s leadership turmoil.

With six months to the election, voters have embraced Tony Abbott and condemned the ALP for the farce that ended in a leadership spill that Kevin Rudd did not contest.

Today’s Newspoll, published in The Australian, shows the Coalition with a massive 20-point lead on primary vote with its support up six points to 50 per cent.

Labor fell four points to 30 per cent and the Greens were down a point to 10 per cent.

After preferences, it puts the Coalition ahead 58 to 42 per cent.

That would mean an eight-point swing from the last election and, if repeated across the board on September 14, Labor would lose 35 seats and have only 37 MPs left in the House of Representatives – even worse than Paul Keating’s 1996 defeat.

Labor’s lousy week continues

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Labor’s lousy week continues

The latest Newspoll shows Julia Gillard is fast losing popularity while her government faces a wipeout.












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Newspoll shows Ms Gillard’s satisfaction rating dived six points to a 13-month low of 26 per cent but her dissatisfaction rating soared eight to 68 per cent.

Mr Abbott’s ratings were his best since September 2011, with his approval rating up three points to 39 per cent and dissatisfaction rating down five to 50 per cent.

Mr Abbott’s approval rating is 13 points ahead of Ms Gillard’s.

He also jumped in front as preferred PM, rising five points to 43 per cent as Ms Gillard crashed seven points to 35 per cent.

Ms Gillard this afternoon said she did not comment on opinion polls.

”I don’t comment on opinion polls but I don’t think anybody in the country needs an opinion poll to tell them Labor had a truly appalling week,” she said.

”For us that week is over, the government has always had a sense of purpose, now it has a sense of unity.”

Julia Gillard: Hanging on by a thread

June 24, 2010

Gillard becomes Australia’s first female Prime Minister after challenging Kevin Rudd. The incident becomes known as the ‘knifing’ of Rudd.

August 2, 2010

The PM says it’s time voters had a chance to see the “real Julia”. The move backfires when people ask: if it’s now time to see the real Julia, who was she before?

December 15, 2010

At least 30 asylum seekers die when their ramshackle boat breaks up after being tossed against cliffs in rough seas off Christmas Island. The incident reignites debate about boat arrivals in Australia.

January 2011

Gillard visits flood-ravaged Queensland, and is criticised by some commentators for lack of warmth. Her one-off flood levy to help Queenslanders recover is highly controversial.

February 24, 2011

Gillard breaks an election promise in announcing a carbon tax. Tony Abbott slams the announcement as “an utter betrayal of the Australian people”.

March 21, 2011

Gillard cops flack when she reveals she is opposed to gay marriage and, despite being an atheist, that she thinks it’s important for people to understand the Bible.

March 23, 2011

A carbon tax protest rally led by Tony Abbott in Canberra turns personal when anti-government demonstrators start chanting “ditch the bitch”. Placards at the rally read “Ju-Liar” and “Bob Brown’s bitch”.

May 7, 2011

The Gillard Government announces it is close to signing the “Malaysia Solution”. Issues surrounding human rights and unaccompanied children then dog the government.

May 18, 2011

The Prime Minister flicks the switch on the National Broadband Network on mainland Australia. Many commentators and the Opposition call it waste of money but Gillard says naysayers are out of touch.

May 30, 2011

The government suspends live exports after Four Corners exposes brutal mistreatment of Australian cattle in Indonesian slaughterhouses. Pastoralists’ livelihoods suffer as their cattle remain in limbo.

June 15, 2011

Newspoll shows support for Julia Gillard has crashed to a record low of just 30 per cent. The figure is lower than Kevin Rudd’s was when she replaced him.

September 27, 2011

Kevin Rudd adds fuel to leadership speculation when he makes a gaffe on ABC Radio: “I’m a very happy little vegemite being prime minister … being foreign minister of Australia.”

November 23, 2011

The mining tax is passed after parliament sits late into the night. The Opposition vows to repeal the tax if elected and accuses the Government of secretive “backdoor deals”.

November 24, 2011

Canberra is stunned by a deal installing Peter Slipper, a member of the Queensland Liberals, as Speaker of the House of Representatives. It shores up the government’s numbers but the ousting of Harry Jenkins, a popular and effective Speaker, is seen has harsh.

December 2, 2011

Gillard is widely criticised for “airbrushing” Kevin Rudd from ALP history at the party’s National Conference in Sydney.

January 22, 2012

Gillard reneges on a deal with key independent Andrew Wilkie to introduce measures to tackle problem gambling. Wilkie pulls his support from the government in retaliation. The move puts a new complexion on the installation of Slipper as Speaker.

January 26, 2012

One of Gillard’s key advisors is forced to resign after admitting he tipped off Aboriginal activists to incorrect reports that Tony Abbott wanted to close the tent embassy.

February 24, 2012

Kevin Rudd announces he will contest the leadership, saying Gillard has lost the confidence of the Australian people.

February 27, 2012

Gillard retains the top job after winning the challenge 71-31, but it comes at a cost as Mark Arbib resigns.

March 26, 2012

Queensland Labor is stunned with a landslide state election reducing the party to a rump in the parliament. Gillard says she respects the “shouted” message from voters, but rejects claims it serves as a warning to her own Government.

April 23, 2012

The PM is forced to defend her decision to appoint Peter Slipper as Speaker after allegations he abused his Cabcharge account and sexually harassed a former adviser.

April 29, 2012

Gillard accepts Craig Thompson’s resignation and stands Peter Slipper aside indefinitely. She says the scandals have “crossed a line”, but some commentators see it as another complete U-turn.

May 8, 2012

Voters were unconvinced by Gillard’s 2012 Federal Budget offering $5 billion in cost-of-living offset measures to counteract the impact of the Carbon Tax.

May 9, 2012

Gillard said she was “deeply disturbed” that a three-year investigation by Fair Work Australia found suspended Labor MP Craig Thomson had spent almost $500,000 of union members’ funds on prostitutes, fine dining, hotels, cash withdrawals, air travel and electioneering.

May 10, 2012

Gillard declared that US President Barak Obama’s support for same-sex marriage would not change her own view on the issue.

June 21, 2012

About 90 asylum seekers were lost at sea after a boat capsized north-west of Christmas Island. Rescue attempts successfully pulled 109 out of the water.

June 28, 2012

A second asylum-seeking vessel sank, claiming the lives of at least four people. Merchant and naval vessels rescued 125.

August 12, 2012

Gillard was forced into a major back-down by announcing the Government would nominate Nauru and Manus Island to be reopened as offshore processing facilities for asylum seekers.

August 18, 2012

It was revealed Julia Gillard had been under investigation when she resigned from her law firm Slater and Gordon in 1995. Questions had been raised about work she had done for her then boyfriend, a union boss accused of corruption.

August 23, 2012

The Australian reveals that Gillard admitted that the entity she set up for Wilson was a slush fund to raise cash for the re-election of union officials. Gillard breaks her silence, denying any wrongdoing and declaring the story is part of a sexist internet smear campaign.

October 9, 2012

A fiery speech by Prime Minister Julia Gillard slamming Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for being a misogynist gains global attention.

November 11, 2012

Wayne Hem swears in a statutory declaration that he made the Gillard payment and other payments after being instructed to do so by Bruce Wilson.

November 15, 2012

The Australian reveals that former AWU official Helmut Gries, who first raised concerns that union money may have been spent on Gillard’s renovations, now doubts that version of events.

January 28, 2013

First bloke Tim Mathieson attracts the wrong sort of attention for the following comment: “We can get a blood test for (prostate cancer), but the digital examination is the only true way to get a correct reading on your prostate, so make sure you go and do that, and perhaps look for a small Asian female doctor is probably the best way.”

January 30, 2013

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announces a September 14 election date, initiating one of the longest campaigns in Australian history.

January 31, 2103

Former Labor MP Craig Thomson is arrested at his electoral office on the NSW Central Coast and is charged with 150 offences relating to allegedly fraudulent use of union funds at the Health Services Union.

February 2, 2013

Ministers Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans announce their resignations ahead of the election.

February 19, 2013

Greens leader Christine Milne announces the end of her party’s minority government agreement with Labor over its failed mining tax. The Greens will continue to offer supply until the September election.

February 26, 2013

A Newspoll published in The Australian shows a five-point drop in support for Julia Gillard as preferred Prime Minister, giving Opposition Leader Tony Abbott a four point lead of 40 to 36 per cent. Last November, Ms Gillard enjoyed a 14-point lead in the preferred PM stakes.

March 3, 2013

Julia Gillard begins a five-day stay in western Sydney where she tries to increase her appeal with a disillusioned electorate through promises to tighten the rules around the 457 Visas, giving $1 billion for the WestConnex road project for the M4 and a $50 million promise of federal funds for the Warragamba Dam.

March 9, 2013

Stephen Smith’s comments about federal Labor’s woes having an impact on Liberal Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett’s landslide victory reportedly leave the PM fuming. Similar comments made by ex- Labor Minister, Alannah MacTiernan about the electoral massacre Labor faced with Julia Gillard as leader days later, further inflamed the situation and sparked a fresh round of leadership speculation.

March 11, 2013

A Newspoll published in The Australian shows that Labor’s overall approval support rose three points to 34 per cent while the Coalition fell three points to 44 per cent. Ms Gillard regained her lead over Tony Abbott as preferred Prime Minister 42 to 38 per cent. Later that day, several members of the public were booted out of the federal parliament during question for heckling the prime minister and calling her a “moll” and “Ju-liar”.

March 12, 2013

Bill Shorten rules out taking over from Julia Gillard as Labor MPs meet to find a circuit breaker to the crisis around the party leadership. Meanwhile, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announces a raft of controversial new media reforms which the government wants to pass parliament by the end of the following week.

March 16, 2013

Labor MPs warn controversial media laws should be scrapped if they fail to pass parliament because they would be a dead weight ahead of an election.

March 18, 2013

Kevin Rudd surges ahead of Julia Gillard as preferred Labor leader according to a Nielsen poll. 62 per cent of voters named Mr Rudd as preferred Labor leader, over Ms Gillard (31 per cent). Labor’s primary vote also drops back to 31 per cent.

March 19, 2013

Julia Gillard’s key backers challenge Kevin Rudd’s numbers men to “reveal names” after disputing their claims the former PM was close to having the numbers in caucus behind him to take back the leadership. Mr Rudd ruled out that he would run for the leadership by Friday.

March 21, 2013

Simon Crean calls on the PM to call a spill of all leadership positions to ”end the stalemate”, and Julia Gillard calls a ballot for 4.30 that day. Kevin Rudd announced he would not challenge for the leadership, and Ms Gillard was re-elected unopposed.

March 22, 2013

Cabinet ministers Chris Bowen and Martin Ferguson, senior minister Kim Carr, parliamentary secretary Richard Marles and three whips – Joel Fitzgibbon, Ed Husic and Janelle Saffin – all resigned in the wake of the botched attempt to roll the Prime Minister. Simon Crean was also sacked by Ms Gillard for his role in the attempted spill.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr believes voters don’t want a Coalition government led by Tony Abbott, despite the Newspoll showing otherwise.

”But they are being driven into the Liberal camp and into Abbott’s column by Labor’s behaviour,” he told Sky News from New York.

The challenge for Labor was to put the events of last week ”thoroughly behind it” and have a conversation with the Australian people.

Senator Carr cited the government’s achievements including the creation of nearly one million jobs, a $2.2 billion commitment to mental health and historically-low inflation that meant cash in the pockets and bank accounts of families.

”We just need to ram home these achievements and the risk to them from a change of government in September.”

Finance Minister Penny Wong today said she is not surprised Labor is trailing the Coalition.

”If you have a week like we had, where you are clearly focused on your internals and not doing what’s best for Australians then voters will indicate their view about that,” she told ABC radio.

”I share their view.

”It was not the best week the government’s ever had,” she said.

New cabinet minister Gary Gray, a former ALP national secretary, said Labor was in a similar predicament in late 1992.

That was when the country had become ”completely fascinated” by then Opposition Leader John Hewson and his Fightback policy.

”What the Labor Party did was retreat to its own core values, produce its own policy framework and win in 1993,” he told ABC radio.

Mr Gray said it was true last week was a terrible one, with Ms Gillard again forced to fight for her job.

”The Prime Minister’s own leadership and her strength and her unquestioned leadership of the Labor Party is a great asset for our party,” he said.

Cabinet minister Craig Emerson said recent internal destabilisation played a role in Labor’s poor standing with voters.

”I’m not going to say that every opinion poll is exclusively the result of destabilisation,” he told Sky News.

”But I can say this … it doesn’t help at all.”

Now the leadership crisis was behind it, Labor had an opportunity to re-enter ”the contest of ideas” with the Coalition.

But Senior Liberal George Brandis dismissed that view, saying sacked cabinet minister Simon Crean was still publicly voicing his concerns about the direction of the party.

Last week the government was ”chaotic, divided and dysfunctional” and the disunity was wearing on the electorate.

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”The public get one of the basic truths of politics,” Senator Brandis said.

”If you can’t govern yourselves, you can’t govern the country.”

Ms Gillard yesterday unveiled her new front bench, vowed there would be “no tolerance” for any disloyalty and declared she was appalled by self-indulgent disunity.

“Like Australians around the nation, I was appalled by the events of last week,” Ms Gillard said.

“My political party, the Labor Party that I love very dearly, was self-indulgent … it was an unseemly display but out of that has come clarity.”

Ms Gillard’s sixth reshuffle in three years sees a record 10 women in the ministry of 30 with Ballarat MP Catherine King, Sharon Bird from NSW and Jan McLucas from Queensland promoted as junior ministers and getting a pay rise from $238,187 to $300,116.

The Cabinet was cut from 21 to 20, with extra roles for Craig Emerson, who adds Tertiary Education to Trade, and Rudd supporter Anthony Albanese adding Regional Development to Infrastructure and Transport.

Two new Cabinet faces are former Woodside executive Gary Gray, who takes Resources and Energy, Tourism and Small Business, and Jason Clare, who has the same portfolio of Home Affairs and Cabinet Secretary. They get a $28,582 pay rise.

But a sign of the political carnage Labor has suffered over the past five years is the 10 ex-Cabinet ministers sitting on the back bench.

Victoria loses three ministers who backed Mr Rudd – Martin Ferguson and Simon Crean from Cabinet, who will have their pay slashed from $328,698 to $190,550, and junior minister Kim Carr.

Ms King becomes Minister for Regional Services, Local Communities and Road Safety, while Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby is promoted to parliamentary secretary for the arts.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, has been given extra Cabinet duties as Special Minister of State.

The federal Coalition says Labor’s latest cabinet reshuffle is a sign of an ”end-stage government” that has run out of capable people to fill crucial positions.

Liberal senator George Brandis says the PM has resorted to forming ”super ministries” and heaping responsibility on a few senior MPs because of a lack of talent.

Bundling together trade and education, two of the ”great departments of state”, because of a lack of ”heavyweight people” for the roles was a mistake, he added.

Senator Brandis said Dr Emerson had effectively become a ”part-time” trade minister.

The promotion to the junior ministry of senators Don Farrell and Jan McLucas and MPs Sharon Bird and Catherine King sent a message.

”None of these people were capable of being promoted to cabinet,” Senator Brandis told Sky News today.

”This is what happens to an end-stage government – you just run out of people.”

But Ms Gillard said she was ”spoilt for choice” when considering the reshuffle.

”Fortunately, federal Labor has a depth of talent,” she told ABC radio.

phillip.hudson@news.com.au

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