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Tuesday, December 11, 2012
LABOR facing an election wipeout.
LABOR backbenchers have slumped back into a despondent funk after the final Newspoll of 2012 showed the party ending the year where it began - facing an election wipeout.
After a brief period of respite, when backbenchers basked in the hint of a recovery, many Labor MPs are now deeply pessimistic at Julia Gillard's chances of turning the party's fortunes around.
Today's Newspoll has Labor's primary vote down four percentage points to a six-month low of 32 per cent. The Coalition's primary vote rose three points to 46 per cent - its highest level since the end of August.
“We are back to our base,” said one caucus member. “We've got a big left wing agenda but there's nothing for anyone else.”
The MP said the Prime Minister was playing a “victim strategy”, which was further alienating her from those already critical of her performance.
Another said voters were looking for reassurance and predictability, which they weren't getting from Labor.
“I didn't think we'd win but at least we'd be in the fight. Now we're not even in the fight,” the MP said.
The party's failure to stop asylum-seeker boats was the biggest issue hurting the government, the source said.
There was a grudging respect for the Prime Minister among voters, the MP said, but “I doubt our fortunes will change”.
A third caucus member attributed the dip in support to the “vicious” last sitting week of the parliamentary year, when the Prime Minister was relentlessly targeted over the AWU slush fund scandal.
But anything could happen in an election year, the source said.
“I've always been a pessimist. I've been bleeding votes out there.
“But I'm not going to lie down and die.
“We're short odds to lose the election, but I never give up. Because we're dealing with `Mad Abbott'.”
Ms Gillard today insisted there was nothing for Labor to be gloomy about.
“We'll have an election in 2013 and I can tell you one thing about that election for sure; it won't be decided on yesterday's polls,” she said.
“It will be decided on who has the best plans for the nation's future, who can ensure that the nation in an uncertain world is guided to a stronger future.”
Tony Abbott was reluctant to talk about the poll's findings when he faced reporters in Sydney today.
“Every time politicians run a commentary on the polls, they just reinforce the public's disdain for what they see as Canberra parliamentary games,” he said.
The public wanted a better life and government.
“They want less pressure on their costs of living,” Mr Abbott said.
“They want evidence the (government) focus is on them, not focused on itself.”
Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham said the Newspoll reflected his own feedback in the electorate.
“Australians want rid of this incompetent and dishonest government,” Senator Birmingham told Sky News.
“That is what I hear day in and day out.”
But cabinet minister Craig Emerson said Ms Gillard would withstand the “very aggressive, negative” campaign against her.
“She is still standing; she is a very tough and resilient prime minister and that is what the Australian people want,” he told Sky.