Opposition pounces on PM’s poll blues

A day before Labor’s third budget, a new poll shows that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s approval rating has plummeted to a record low, with political capital waning after recent policy initiatives.

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If an election were held now, the poll shows, Labor would lose. It’s also the first time the PM’s approval rating has slipped below his disapproval rating.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the government had taken tough decisions during the global recession and financial crisis.

“Obviously in the recent period we’ve been dealing with some big questions,” she told ABC Radio, citing the decision to impose a super profits tax on mining companies.

“These things are going to take some time to explain and work through with the electorate and we’ll be focused on that.”

But the Opposition says the poll reflects a crisis in confidence surrounding the PM’s ability to govern.

Rudd keeps on slipping

Rudd’s approval has dropped by 14 percentage points in one month to 45 per cent, while his disapproval rating has risen 13 points to 49 per cent, according to a Nielsen poll published in Fairfax newspapers on Monday.

The loss of personal support is the most dramatic for a prime minister in a decade and marks the first time Mr Rudd has had a disapproval rating higher than his approval rating.

The approval and disapproval ratings of opposition leader Tony Abbott remained steady at 46 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.

Taxing mining, pursuing the ETS

After a concerted attempt from the opposition and the mining industry, the government’s proposed 40 per cent resources tax on the mining industry is also far from popular. The move is opposed by 47 per cent of those polled, with only 44 per cent supporting it, and nine per cent undecided.

Meanwhile. 58 per cent of those polls are still in favour of an ETS – with only 30 per cent opposing it. 45 per cent of those polled opposed the delay in introduction, with 43 per cent backing it.

The poll ocomes after a bad month for the government, in which it scrapped the home insulation scheme and shelved attempts to implement an emissions trading scheme.

The poll shows that on a two-party-preferred basis, Labor and the coalition are even at 50 per cent, compared with 51-49 a month ago. This represents a 2.7-point two-party swing against Labor since the election. If the swing were uniform and an election were held now, Labor would lose 19 seats – and government.

Critics round on PM

The coalition has been quick to pounce.

“I think there is a developing crisis of confidence about Kevin Rudd’s capacity to govern effectively,” Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said.

However, Mr Abbott refused to offer any detail on the timetable for the release of his own policies, saying people already had a pretty good idea of where the coalition stood on the big issues.

“I’ve certainly started to talk about some of the things that we will do to reduce debt. For instance we’re going to sell Medibank Private,” he said.

“I think more and more detail will come out between now and the election.

“We won’t be a blank page going into the election campaign.”

One of the reasons behind Mr Rudd’s “freefall” in the polls was because voters had growing confidence in the coalition as the alternative government, Mr Abbott said.