A power of trouble is heading Canberra's way, thundering down the highway in converging convoys of road trains, campervans and cars, gathering in the streets and in Parliament, and growing in volume across Australia's suburbs.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her fragile minority Labor Government are the prime target, but polling also indicates that Opposition leader Tony Abbott and the Coalition are preferred more by default than merit.

The protest, dubbed by some local media as Australia's version of America's conservative Tea Party, will begin rumbling thousands of kilometres across the nation in a "convoy of no confidence".

Starting from Port Hedland in West Australia's north, everything from road trains to motorcycles will join from 11 kick-off points in a display of rural anger at policies ranging from the carbon tax and meddling with live animal exports to asylum seekers, food imports, bungled federal programmes and gay marriage.


When it arrives in Canberra on Monday, the convoy will tell Gillard her Government no longer has a mandate and demand she dissolve Parliament for a new election. She is unlikely to agree, but it will be a daunting reminder of the nation's anger.

And according to the latest poll, faith in the leadership is so exhausted that voters would rather resurrect the premiership of Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and former Coalition leader Malcolm Turnbull to handle a financial crisis than trust in Gillard or Abbott.

As polling now stands, Labor would be crushed by a Coalition landslide. On the basis of the Nielsen poll published in Fairfax newspapers yesterday, Labor would lose 35 of its 72 seats if an election was held now, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Gillard is hanging tough, having negotiated attenuated versions of a number of the priorities nominated after the last election, including the mining tax, hospital reform, the carbon tax now moving through Parliament, and action on asylum seekers, even if based on a refugee swap with Malaysia and reopening the former Coalition Government's detention centre on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.

Gillard has also added aged care reforms and a proposed national no-fault disability insurance scheme to list she hopes will gradually gain traction and save the Government at the 2012 election.

In the Nielsen poll Labor's primary vote nudged up 2 per cent to 28 per cent - still 10 points down on its election performance - while the Coalition's has slipped three points to 48 per cent.

On the two-party preferred vote that decides elections, the Coalition is well ahead, by 58 per cent to 42 per cent.

Similar results came yesterday in the latest telephone Morgan Poll, which showed the Opposition leading Labor by 57 per cent to 43 per cent.


Gillard has gained on Abbott as preferred Prime Minister - now trailing by only three points - but more than half of voters disapprove of the way both leaders are handling their jobs.

And should a new global financial crisis break, voters want neither in the job: 29 per cent were for both Rudd and Turnbull, 21 per cent for Abbott and 15 per cent for Gillard.

Key issues bedevil both party leaders. Neither has won the nation over on climate change proposals and both Morgan and Nielsen reported continued rejection of a carbon tax.

Other issues, such as same-sex marriage, are uncomfortable for both parties: organisers of a national marriage day rally are expecting more than 1000 opponents of gay wedlock at Parliament House today.

The suburbs are hurting, with little faith in politicians to find a way out.

Morgan said only 42 per cent of Australians thought the nation was heading in the right direction, and a survey by the Australian Council of Social Service said community and social service organisations could not cope with soaring demand.

Tens of thousands of people were being turned away as appeals for aged care leaped 128 per cent in the past year, and demand from the homeless and for financial support and emergency relief increased by between 20 and 50 per cent.

New cost of living figures added to the gloom. "Most people do not need these figures to remind them what they see every time they go to the supermarket or open their power bill," Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said.