Epic Election Clash Brewing Between Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott

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By Erik Pineda | October 29, 2012 1:10 PM EST

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is riding high as the latest Newspoll-News Ltd survey pointed to her steady popularity with a significant bonus - Labor, the party she leads, is surging too and has effectively erased the possibility of a humiliating defeat come the federal election on the latter part of 2013.

The government, according to The Australian, greatly capitalise on the 'gender war' between Ms Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, with the former and her court obviously winning the tussle.

As the image of the combative prime minister was seen around the world, 'chopping up' Mr Abbott into pieces according to analysts, Australians cheered and poured out their support for Labor, pushing up the party's primary numbers to 36 per cent.

The Coalition though remains on top at 41 per cent, Newspoll said, leaving only five points to separate the two leading contender to the federal government. Yet most noteworthy is the fact that just a few months ago, Labor was staring at the spectre of being swept from power and the result of the poll conducted over the weekend has hardly dissipated that scenario.

The government now wields a fighting chance to win a fresh term next year, analysts said, and that observation is based on Newspoll's report that on two party-preferred contest Labor and the Coalition now stood deadlocked at 50 per cent.

With a wafer-thin primary lead on its lap, the Coalition agonises likewise on the new survey data that declared Ms Gillard is pulling away from Mr Abbott on the opinion poll battle, emerging anew as the preferred prime minister with 45 per cent of support from Aussie voters.

She also collected a satisfaction rating of 35 per cent, The Australian reported on Monday, while that of Mr Abbott's dipped three points to 30 per cent, which only aggravated his lowly preferred prime minister numbers at 34 per cent.

Labor's recovery and specifically that of Ms Gillard's proved her resiliency, Trade Minister Craig Emerson said on Monday.

"The prime minister's had the kitchen sink, the bathroom vanity and the carport thrown at her and she's still standing," Dr Emerson was reported by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying.

The solid numbers also strengthened Ms Gillard's hold on the Labor leadership and likely would douse cold water on recent efforts by supporters of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to push for his return, analysts said.

More importantly, the fresh Newspoll survey further shored up the prime minister's standing against Mr Abbott, Finance Minister Penny Wong said in an interview with Seven Network on Monday.

"I think Australians are becoming increasingly clear about what Tony Abbott stands for ... someone who's pretty good at saying 'no' and pretty good at going in for the aggressive attack but not very good at saying what he thinks is the right thing for the next generation of Australians, and what's the right thing for Australia's future," Ms Wong said.

Mr Abbott, however, remains convinced that the 'soap opera Labor leadership' will be rejected by the public in next year's national election despite the poll gains reflected by the government.

"The Labor Party leadership is a soap opera and the only way to end the soap opera is to change the government to give the Labor Party a stint in opposition when they can sort this stuff out," the Liberal leader was reported by The Australian as saying.

Ms Gillard, for her part, regarded Labor's fresh poll boosts as the Australian public's way of affirming the government's policies.

"I think there is a contrast in Australian politics. It's between Labor's plan for the future and the opposition lacking any plan," the prime minister told Sky News today.

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