Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Coalition takes economy, Labor slumps on all issues

THE Gillard government has lost ground to the Coalition on the handling of every key electoral issue, with voter support for Tony Abbott's opposition surging back to the levels of the Howard government in its last three years.
Support for Labor's handling of the economy has crashed from 34 per cent to 28 per cent, the equal lowest level since Kevin Rudd won the election in 2007. The Coalition's economic management has risen to 50 per cent, up from 46 per cent a year ago, for the first time since 2007 when the Howard government was in power.
The Newspoll survey of voters' attitudes to important issues, conducted exclusively for The Australian last weekend, came at the same time as Labor's primary vote dropped back to 32 per cent and the Opposition Leader greatly cut back Julia Gillard's lead as preferred prime minister.

Although unemployment remains low at 5.4 per cent, the Gillard government has lost its lead over the opposition on handling jobs. Last year Labor led the Coalition on the issue 42 per cent to 38 per cent Coalition; now Labor is on 37 per cent to the Coalition's 41 per cent.
While interest rates remain at "emergency" lows and mortgage payments have dropped markedly, Labor has gone backwards on managing interest rates, down from 32 per cent to 28 per cent, lower than during the global financial crisis. Coalition support on handling interest rates is virtually steady on 43 per cent. The continuing low rate of official interest meant the issue dropped one place in voters' importance from third-last to second-last.
Last week, the Prime Minister said she would conduct a "crusade" to improve education, and declared that economic management was the key to the "years ahead".
Labor continues to lead the Liberals on the handling of the top-ranking issues of health and education but Labor's lead has been halved in both areas. On the issue of health and Medicare, traditionally a Labor strength, Labor's support has fallen from 44 to 40 per cent in the last year and the Coalition's is steady on 36 per cent.
On education, which Ms Gillard said last week would be a "moral crusade" that defined her prime ministership, voters downgraded Labor from 46 per cent in February last year to 41 per cent, and the Coalition lifted from 33 to 36 per cent, its highest since February 2005.
The biggest area of change was on the handling of asylum-seekers with support for the Coalition jumping 11 percentage points to 47 per cent and Labor's going from 18 per cent to 20 per cent.
During last year's debate over offshore processing and the opposition's blocking of the government's attempts to establish the Malaysia Solution, Liberals support was at 36 per cent, just double Labor's support; now the Coalition is regarded as more than doubly capable of handling the arrival of asylum-seekers.
Despite Australia's success at winning a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, Labor's standing on the handling of national security fell from 31 per cent last year to 24 per cent while the Coalition rose two points to 47 per cent, its highest since June 2007.
The ALP has also fallen back on industrial relations, with support dropping from 47 per cent a year ago to 41 per cent last weekend as Coalition support went from 34 to 36 per cent, the highest since June 2004 before John Howard introduced Work Choices.
Labor fell on the handling of climate change, dropping from 35 per cent last year to 30 per cent as the Coalition's support rose from 26 per cent to 28 per cent.
GRAPHIC: Issues Newspoll

Coalition takes economy, Labor slumps on all issues: Newspoll