Like every politician, Prime Minister Julia Gillard appears vulnerable to public attacks as the latest Galaxy-News Ltd survey showed that 20 per cent of Australian voters regarded her handling of the AWU slush fund scandal as not transparent enough.
Another 31 per cent of the 1,015 respondents queried by Galaxy over the last weekend thought the prime minister was either lying or veiling the real circumstances connecting her to the hundreds of thousands reportedly pilfered 17 years ago by former AWU boss Bruce Wilson.
Mr Wilson and Ms Gillard were in a relationship when the latter acted as lawyer for AWU. The disgraced former union leader had earlier declared in a statement that his former girlfriend was innocent of any wrong, dismissing insinuations by his former bagman, Ralph Blewitt, and the Coalition.
Despite the clarification, 60 per cent of Australian voters would still want to hear Ms Gillard's official story on the matter at the Parliament, yet 56 per cent also indicated that the issue itself would not define their decision on 2013's federal election.
Labor, however, seemed affected by the controversy as Galaxy data showed a decline of 26 per cent on those who will likely support the retention of the current federal government come the 2013 electoral contest.
That would mean the opposition would emerge the winner with its primary vote at 48 per cent, giving it a 14-point buffer against Labor's 34 per cent. On two-party preferred, the Coalition remains on top at 54 per cent while the government is behind by eight points at 46 per cent.
But in a four-person struggle for the country's top post, neither Ms Gillard nor Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was able to capture the imagination of the Australian public, News Ltd said.
That distinction was given to former Labor leader Kevin Rudd, who according to Galaxy ran off with 27 per cent of support from the Aussie voters, followed closely by former Coalition leader Malcolm Turnbull, amassing 23 per cent of vote as the nation's preferred leader.
The two incumbent party leaders, Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott, were third and fourth place, garnering respective supports of 18 and 17 per cents.
Why voters seem to shy away from both the Labor and Liberal headliners? The public was far from impressed with what they've seen lately with the persons leading the two major parties, according to Galaxy's David Briggs.
"Julia Gillard has the problem of the level of trust in her . . . and I don't think too many people are impressed with the performance of the opposition, Tony Abbott in particular," Mr Briggs offered.
"As a consequence the former leaders offer something the current leaders just can't," The Australian reported him as saying.
To contact the editor, e-mail: