Poll nightmare for Gillard over carbon tax plan

By Greg Ansley

Production starts this week on At Home with Julia, an ABC TV comedy about the domestic life of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and partner Tim Mathieson.

"They're just like any other busy modern couple, trying to balance their relationship with critical tasks like introducing taxes no one voted for," said executive producer and co-writer Rick Kalowski.

Real life for Gillard, though, is not nearly as funny.

After last week's Newspoll reporting record popularity lows for Gillard and the Government, two new polls have confirmed voters have spurned Labor and the planned carbon tax.

More rumours of growing anger on Labor's backbench have surfaced, with reports of demands that Gillard turn the polls around within six months to a year, or resign.

Her only small cheer has been murmurings of trouble within the Opposition, new barbs fired by former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull at his usurper, present leader Tony Abbott, over flip-flops on climate change, and a gathering storm over industrial relations.

The draconian WorkChoices introduced by former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard played a big role in the dumping of the Coalition from power in 2007, and Abbott has been careful to avoid mention of the policy.

The Government and unions have been building a scare campaign around Abbott's supposed secret plan to resurrect WorkChoices if he wins power at the next election, due in 2013.

Labor dumped the policy when it became the Government.

On the ABC's Insiders programme, Howard said key elements of his policy should be reintroduced. Similar pressure has come from former Howard minister and senior Liberal Peter Reith, and from Opposition MPs.

Under pressure later from reporters, Abbott said he would go to the next election with an industrial relations policy to resolve problems with the present system, but not one based on ideology.

But the real heat remains on Gillard. A Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers yesterday said Labor's primary vote had dived to just 26 per cent, the lowest level for one of the main parties in the poll's history.

In the two-party preferred vote that decides Australian elections, the Coalition leads the Government by 61 per cent to 39 per cent.

Abbott leads Gillard as preferred prime minister by 51 per cent to 40.

And the latest telephone Morgan poll said the Government trailed the Opposition by 60.5 per cent to 39.5 per cent - Labor's worst two-party preferred voting result since the first Morgan Gallup poll in 1942.

The Coalition's primary vote of 52.5 per cent is almost double Labor's 27.5.

The Nielsen poll said 53 per cent of voters believed they would be worse off under the carbon tax, although only a slight majority of 52 per cent thought Abbott should keep his promise to repeal it if elected.

The poll also said 56 per cent agreed with Abbott's demand for Gillard to call an early election to seek a mandate for the tax. But Gillard said she remained determined to introduce the tax despite the polls.

"Democracy is not one long opinion poll," she told ABC radio. "It's actually about showing the leadership that is necessary for the country's future and that's what I'm doing.

"I've well and truly got the courage of my convictions and I will be out there providing the leadership necessary as we tackle this big reform."

Senior Labor ministers dismissed talk of a backbench rebellion and Treasurer Wayne Swan said New Zealand's experience showed scare campaigns faded with time.

"New Zealand's emissions trading scheme is working well," he said, "there's been only a very minor impact on prices, and the Government's modelling proved to be spot on."

- NZ Herald

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