All Ears: Climate Change Too Hot for Prime Minister Rudd to Handle
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s personal standing has taken a hammering after his decision to dump the emissions trading scheme last week, and for the first time since 2006 the Coalition has an election-winning lead. Mr Rudd’s previous standing as being seen to be “decisive and strong” also fell significantly, and for the first time since the election Labor lost its lead over all-comers as the preferred party to handle climate change.
Latest poll – Rudd losing points on climate change/emissions trading
Dennis Shanahan, Political editor for The Australian (4 May 2010):
The Coalition would score a shock election win based on the latest Newspoll.
KEVIN Rudd’s personal standing has taken a hammering after his decision to dump his climate change policy last week, and for the first time since 2006 the Coalition has an election-winning lead.
The Prime Minister’s personal satisfaction rating has dropped the most in the shortest time in the 20-year history of Newspoll surveys, and for the first time since the election Labor no longer has a clear lead over either the Coalition or the Greens on the issue of climate change.
Mr Rudd’s previous standing as being seen to be “decisive and strong” also fell significantly, and for the first time since the election Labor lost its lead over allcomers as the preferred party to handle climate change.
For the first time in Mr Rudd’s prime ministership, an opposition leader is seen clearly as being stronger and more decisive than Mr Rudd, and Tony Abbott is considered almost equal with the Prime Minister in his grasp of major policy issues.
After weeks of dramatic policy reversals and broken promises, culminating last week in Mr Rudd’s decision to put off his Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme until at least 2013, the government’s primary vote has plunged eight percentage points to just 35 per cent. The Coalition’s primary support has risen three points to 43 per cent.
Most of Labor’s lost vote appears to have gone to “others and independents” rather than to the Coalition or the Greens.
According to the latest Newspoll, taken last weekend exclusively for The Australian and polling almost 1200 voters, the extraordinary shifts in the primary vote mean the two-party-preferred support for Labor has dropped to 49 per cent while the Coalition’s has risen from 46 to 51 per cent. The ALP won the last election with a two-party-preferred vote of 52.7 to 47.3 per cent. A swath of seats would fall in an election with a swing of just 1 per cent either way, and the Coalition needs to win about seven seats to win the election.
The last time the Coalition was in front on the two-party-preferred basis, according to preference flows at the last election, was in August 2006 when Kim Beazley was opposition leader and John Howard was prime minister.
The Rudd government is still failing to enhance its lead on the issue of health and Medicare, despite a month of deals with the states on hospital reforms and campaigning by Mr Rudd.
The Prime Minister’s personal satisfaction rating, down 11 points from 50 per cent two weeks ago to 39 per cent last weekend, is the lowest he has had as Labor leader, and it is the first time he has had a negative satisfaction rating, after dissatisfaction with him jumped nine points to 50 per cent.
Labor’s primary vote, at 35 per cent, is at its lowest since March 2006 when Labor was in opposition.
Although Labor’s vote dropped heavily after the government announced it would cancel the proposed new home roofing insulation scheme and spend $1 billion fixing up the old failed scheme, drop its CPRS this year and lift the tax on a packet of cigarettes by $2.16, the Coalition’s vote did not lift to the same degree.
Primary support for the Coalition rose from 40 to 43 per cent and Greens’ support was unchanged on 10 per cent. The category of “others”, that is smaller parties and independents, rose from just 7 per cent two weeks ago to 12 per cent last weekend.
Likewise, satisfaction with the way Mr Abbott is doing his job as Opposition Leader dropped a little, from 46 to 45 per cent, and dissatisfaction rose back to where it was a month ago, to 43 per cent.
Because of Mr Rudd’s fall in favour, Mr Abbott is now the best placed opposition leader on the question of better prime minister.
Support for Mr Rudd fell to his lowest level of 50 per cent, down six points, and Mr Abbott’s rose to his highest level of 32 per cent, up three points.
Additional questions in the Newspoll survey suggest Mr Rudd’s decision to dump the CPRS until 2013 at least and Mr Abbott’s attack on the Prime Minister as being “gutless” are the prime reasons for the slump in Mr Rudd’s personal support and the collapse of the party primary vote.
When Mr Rudd was first elected and faced Brendan Nelson as Liberal leader, 84 per cent of voters felt he was “strong and decisive” compared with Dr Nelson’s 47 per cent. In September 2008, Malcolm Turnbull, as the new Liberal leader, was on 74 per cent support for being decisive compared with Mr Rudd’s 73 per cent. Last weekend, Mr Rudd’s support for being decisive dropped 10 points since September 2008 to 63 per cent; Mr Abbott was on 69 per cent.
When asked whether the leaders understood the major issues facing Australia, Mr Rudd’s support fell from 76 per cent in September 2008 to 69 per cent last weekend and Mr Abbott’s first rating was 66 per cent.