Friday, August 9, 2013

Swing lifts Coalition election hopes - The Age

The Coalition has pulled ahead of Labor with 52 per cent support to Labor's 48 per cent during the first week of an election campaign pitched by both sides as a referendum on economic management.

Tony Abbott has also overtaken Kevin Rudd on the question of personal trustworthiness in the 1400-strong Fairfax-Nielsen poll taken from Tuesday to Thursday.

In a sharp turnaround since July, 47 per cent of voters now rate Mr Abbott as more trustworthy than Mr Rudd, who scored a 40 per cent rating.

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Are we finally warming to Tony Abbott?

At long last voters appear to be liking and trusting Tony Abbott more, according to a crucial pre-election opinion poll.

Mr Rudd had led Mr Abbott 45-40 shortly after taking over from Julia Gillard.

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On the question of which party voters expected to win the election, 57 per cent predicted a Coalition victory, compared to 31 per cent picking Labor to secure a third term.

But Labor still leads by a convincing 20 points on the key indicator of education, 56-36, and has narrowed the gap to the Coalition on the issue of boat people.

Potential winners are grinners: Tony Abbott joins a media bus group during his campaign visit to Brisbane, as an opinion poll brought good news for the Coalition.

Potential winners are grinners: Tony Abbott joins a media bus group during his campaign visit to Brisbane, as an opinion poll brought good news for the Coalition. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

A 20-point Labor deficit on asylum-seeker management in July has dropped to only 8 points, with 39 per cent preferring its toughened approach, which includes the PNG solution. But 47 per cent still favour the Coalition's policies.

Labor's primary vote support, which had climbed as high as 39 per cent after Mr Rudd replaced Ms Gillard, has dropped again 2 points to 37 per cent, and is in danger of slipping further as voters overwhelmingly back the Coalition on the central question of who is the superior economic manager.

The Coalition's primary support improved by 2 points to 46 per cent since the last poll.

The poll was taken before Mr Rudd revealed his ''captain's pick'' of Peter Beattie in the Queensland seat of Forde, which Labor hopes will lift its campaign in the state and beyond.

On the question of who would better manage the economy, Mr Abbott has opened a potentially unbridgeable 18-point lead with 56 per cent of respondents favouring the Coalition over Labor on 38 per cent. That is seven-point widening in the past month, during which Labor revealed its shock $33 billion write-down in expected revenue, flagged rising unemployment, and abandoned plans to balance the budget by 2015-16.

The poll comes as fresh questions arise over the Coalition's budget strategy, with Labor claiming it has blown a $1.5 billion hole in Mr Abbott's claimed $17 billion worth of savings.

Labor analysis, obtained exclusively by Fairfax Media, has found that a projected saving of $1.5 billion booked by the Coalition from scrapping the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation simply no longer exists.

However, the government said the CEFC had been required to ensure all of its investments were capable of a commercial rate of return. As such, they must be treated as investments in assets and therefore not booked as spending in the budget.

The finding suggests the Coalition's already difficult task of providing savings to offset new expenditure such as its $5 billion cut to the company tax rate, has been rendered even harder.

Labor has tried to dent the Coalition's credibility over budget management in the first days of the campaign, saying its sums do not add up.

But the poll, taken during a week dominated by an interest rate cut and an escalating Labor scare campaign accusing the opposition of wanting to extend the GST to food, suggests voters so far are not buying it.

Mr Abbott contradicted his Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey on Friday, saying Treasury's Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook (PEFO) report due out on Tuesday was the best set of numbers to go on.

Mr Hockey had already declared the PEFO meaningless, citing wide variations between revenue forecasts and reality, with dire consequences for revenue.

Earlier this week, he told The Guardian that Treasury's figures in the PEFO were ''not credible". "These numbers just look stupid so we won't be adding up our policies [based on them]. It would simply produce a meaningless document if we were to do that."

But on Friday Mr Abbott said the opposition would now work from the PEFO.

''The best estimate going will be PEFO. Hopefully it will be more accurate than previous figures and we'll obviously be working off the PEFO figures,'' he said.

In other findings in the poll, Mr Rudd's net approval rating slipped 7 points to 48 per cent, with 47 per cent disapproving.

Mr Abbott's net approval remained in negative territory, with a disapproval rating of 52 per cent and an approval rating of 45 per cent, an 8-point improvement.

The gap between the pair on the separate index of preferred prime minister also narrowed, with Mr Rudd scoring 50 per cent after losing 5 points, and Mr Abbott improving slightly, up 1 point to 42.

 

With BIANCA HALL


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